Mobile voice and data services have had a profound effect on Uganda’s telecommunications market, particularly given the poor condition of fixed-line infrastructure. This has meant that mobile networks carry most voice traffic and account for the vast majority of internet connections. With recent investment in LTE technologies mobile broadband services have improved, while greater internet bandwidth through international cables has also reduced the cost of backhaul and so also of mobile services. The market is overcrowded, with several networks in contention, and there is room for further consolidation among operators. In recent years Bharti Airtel took over Warid Telecom and Smart Telecom entered the market, while Orange Uganda decided to exit the market, selling to Lebanon-based Africell Holdings. Orange Uganda completed its rebranding as Africell in February 2015.
Competition encouraged a price war which accelerated subscriber growth but also reduced ARPU for operators, as well as quality of service. The network operators compensated by raising tariffs and have looked to mobile data to generate additional revenue streams. Mobile broadband via 3G and LTE as well as mobile money transfer and m-banking services are at the forefront of this development. This has been helped by low fixed-line voice and internet penetration, and by the fact that only a fifth of the population have a traditional bank account.
Vodafone Uganda signs up 100,000 subscribers in its first seven months of operating; Smile Communications contracts Ericsson for managed services; Vodafone Uganda expands LTE as part of national coverage program; Ericsson deploys its Converged Wallet platform for MTN Uganda; seventh network launches amidst consolidation in the crowded mobile sector; opportunities grow for MVNOs and tower outsourcing companies; Africell completes acquisition of Orange Uganda; LTE infrastructure expanding; SIM card registration deadline again extended; continuing strong growth in the number of mobile money transactions; regulator reports on QoS assessments; report update includes the regulator’s market data to March 2015, operator data to Q3 2015, recent market developments.
Companies mentioned in this report:
MTN Uganda (Telia), Bharti Airtel (Zain, Celtel), Uganda Telecom (UTL, LAP Green, Telecel, Orascom, Deutsche Telekom), Warid Telecom (Essar), Orange (HiTS Telecom), i-Tel, Simba Telecoms, Standard Chartered Bank, Monitise, American Tower Corporation (ATC), Eaton Towers, Smile Telecom, Smart Telecom, Sure Telecom, K2 Telecom, Africell (Lintel).