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    Serbian mobile operators expand reach of LTE-A services 24 Sep 2016

    Following an economically and politically turbulent period during the 1990s, Serbia started the first decade of the new millennium with strong GDP growth until the economic crisis of 2008. GDP growth soon recovered but more recently it has been stymied by the poor performance of Serbia’s principal trading markets, including Italy and Greece.

    Economic difficulties prompted the government to adopt a range of fiscal measures to raise revenue, including a short-term imposition of a 10% tax on telecom services. Similarly, the economic difficulties, compounded by a range of regulatory measures, has seen a steady fall in telecom market revenue suffered due to the recent adverse economic conditions although not all markets were affected equally.

    Serbia’s integration with the European Union (EU), formalised by the Stabilisation and Association Agreement in 2008, has encouraged the government and regulator to adopted measures aimed at promoting telecoms reform. The Agreement oversees closer integration with the EU and covers commitments to political, economic, trade, or human rights reform. In addition, as part of the EU pre-accession process, Serbia has received financial aid to build public institutions and improve cross-border co-operation. Serbia has been an official EU candidate country since January 2014.

    EU reforms have been fundamental to Serbia’s telecom sector. The EU’s regulatory framework for communications (the NRF), adopted in mid-2010, promotes competition as the most efficient way to offer communications products and services while ensuring universal access. However, the May 2012 election of a new government less inclined to compromise with EU, though still committed to joining the Union, may have implications for telecom sector regulatory measures.

    Considerable network investment has been undertaken by incumbent and alternative operators in recent years, despite economic difficulties. This has helped to stimulate internet usage, which has also been bolstered by improved affordability as prices are reduced through competition.

    Serbia boasts an extensive broadcasting market, with programming available via radio and TV programme distribution via cable, wireless cable, terrestrial free-to-air and broadband TV. An analogue switch off (ASO) plan has been adopted and digital TV is widely available on cable networks.

    Serbia’s high mobile penetration, the result of multiple SIM card use, has seen lower revenue in recent years, placing further pressure on operators to develop business models which encourage consumer use of mobile data services as also the continued substitution of fixed-line for mobile voice calls.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Serbia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses


    Mobile services growing rapidly in the Solomon Islands 23 Sep 2016

    The Solomon Islands has demonstrated some impressive figures when it comes to mobile uptake. Despite having a population of only around 555,000 citizens; the number of mobile subscribers has grown very rapidly since the Solomon Islands stabilised politically and economically.

    Due to the geographic difficulties in deploying fibre-optic cables in the Solomon Islands, the development of telecommunications technology has focused heavily on mobile and satellite networks.

    The Solomon Islands offers a young demographic where 60% of the population is below the age of 25 and are keen to gain improved access to communication and digital services. Recent mobile network expansions and upgrades by the two major operators, Our Telekom (operating as Breeze) and Bmobile-Vodafone, are improving mobile services and in turn driving uptake.

    Satellite service providers, Kacific and 03b Networks are making great strides to increase satellite internet connectivity across the Solomon Islands. The Solomon Oceanic Cable Company (SOCC), in conjunction with other organisations, is also managing a project to deploy submarine cable to the islands. Various international organisations such as The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have taken a special interest in seeing communication services improved in both the Solomon Islands and Pacific region in general.

    The Solomon Islands is an interesting telecoms market to observe due to inhibitors such as the high-costs associated with backhaul and technology deployments, the unreliable electricity supply and potentially unstable political environment. However, the high mobile penetration but low mobile broadband uptake indicates potential for growth, especially as the various infrastructure improvements are completed.

    Overall the improvements to communication services will assist to prevent the isolation currently experienced by citizens of the more remote and rural areas of the islands.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Solomon Islands - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


    Vodafone Zambia launches LTE services to compete with the MNOs 23 Sep 2016

    Zambia is a landlocked country which has recently gained access to international submarine fibre optic cables. This has led to some significant retail price reductions for broadband services, and facilitated domestic fibre builds. Third Generation (3G) mobile broadband services have been launched and national fibre networks are being rolled out by four different companies. The first commercial LTE network launches have been undertaken, which has dramatically increased the number of mobile broadband subscribers in the country. Several ISPs have also rolled out WiMAX wireless broadband networks. These developments are set to increase overall broadband penetration significantly in coming years.

    Although the mobile voice market is approaching saturation, the government is reviving old plans to issue a fourth mobile licence. The country’s telecoms regulator has launched legal action against the existing mobile networks because of poor quality of service (QoS).

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Zambia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


    Mauritius Telecom to fast-track national fibre coverage by 2017 22 Sep 2016

    The island nation of Mauritius has long been a pioneer in the telecom sector. It was the first market in the greater Africa region to launch cellular systems (in 1989), the first to provide commercial 3G mobile service (2004), the first in the world to develop a nationwide WiMAX wireless broadband network (2005), and one of the first to launch IPTV services (2006). LTE services are now widely available, providing data at up to 100Mb/s.

    The incumbent telco, Mauritius Telecom, has been partially privatised and now benefits from the scale and technical prowess of Orange Group, which holds a 40% interest in the operator. All sectors of the market are open to competition. Served by a modern, digital fixed-line network, fibre optic submarine cables for international connectivity, three mobile networks, and a number of broadband and other service providers, Mauritius is successfully pursuing a policy to make telecommunications the fifth pillar of its economy, and to become a regional telecom hub. The government has been active in promoting its national broadband policy. The government has been instrumental in securing infrastructure upgrades, including an upgrade for satellite connectivity to Rodrigues, which became operational in mid-2013, as well as improved submarine cable capacity to the island, affected in 2015.

    The mobile market, with penetration at 146% by mid-2016, is migrating from voice to data services. There are three GSM network operators –Mauritius Telecom (in partnership with Orange Group), Emtel (now operated by the local Currimjee Jeewanjee Group and by Bharti Enterprises), and Mahanagar, a subsidiary of India’s MTNL which is also the island’s second fixed-line operator using CDMA2000 technology.

    The highest growth rates are currently seen in the mobile broadband sector, where LTE, HSPA and EV-DO based 3G services compete with fixed-line DSL and other wireless broadband offerings, including WiMAX. FttC and FttP rollouts are in progress, delivering 100Mb/s connections to the residential sector and options for a 1Gb/s services for businesses. Mauritius Telecom is investing more than Rs5 billion to fast-track national FttP deployment by the end of 2017.

    End-user pricing has fallen in recent years following the landing of a second international submarine fibre optic cable.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Mauritius - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


    Namibia’s MTC triples mobile data speeds with launch of LTE-A technology 21 Sep 2016

    Although Namibia was slow to introduce competition in the mobile market, with a second operator not licensed until 2006, the market has since seen penetration rates rise to well above the regional average. A new player, Paratus Telecom, has now launched LTE services to compete with those offered by MTC. MTC and Telecom Namibia Mobile (formerly Cell One and Leo, now owned by Telecom Namibia) – have entered the internet and broadband market with 3G mobile broadband services in a bid to create new revenue streams. MTC introduced LTE services in May 2012 and in mid-2016 it tripled data speeds through upgrading its network with LTE-A technology.

    Fixed-line services are still a monopoly of Telecom Namibia, but as a member of the WTO the government plans to open the telecom sector to full competition.

    Although Namibia’s internet and broadband sector is reasonably competitive, with six ISPs active, its development was for long held back by high prices for international bandwidth caused by the lack of a direct connection to international submarine fibre optic cables. This changed in 2011 when the WACS cable landed in the country. International cable services were launched in May 2012. In parallel, Namibia is diversifying its transit access routes via adjacent countries.

    The country’s growth in broadband services has been helped by developments with 3G and LTE network rollouts, as well as by investments in national fibre backbone infrastructure. Several WiMAX and other wireless broadband services offer additional access options and are standing by to bring additional competition to the voice market as well, once internet telephony is deregulated.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Namibia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


    Lithuania auctions more spectrum to improve mobile broadband capacity 21 Sep 2016

    Lithuania’s small telecoms market is among the more developed in Europe. A number of alternative operators offer services although the incumbent TEO is still the dominant operator in the fixed-line and broadband sectors. Although telecom revenue had declined steadily since 2008 there was a recovery in 2015, and this has continued into 2016. Recovery is partly due to the excellent fibre infrastructure which has stimulated consumer take-up of high-end IP services, as also the strong growth in mobile data use.

    Lithuania has one of the highest broadband penetration rates in Europe, while its focus on fibre networks has provided the country with the most mature fibre market in the region and one of the highest fibre penetration rates globally Regulatory measures have ensured that there is effective competition to the incumbent operator TEO. The company offers fibre broadband at up to 600Mb/s, a testament to its investment in infrastructure in recent years. Widespread internet usage has also resulted in a fast-emerging internet society, with a range of ICT services improving social and economic development, and with various e-commerce, e-government, e-education and e-health services increasingly available and used.

    A burgeoning digital TV market is evident as a consequence of the transition to digital-only broadcasting. TEO is well positioned to develop the sector due to the company’s involvement in both IPTV and digital terrestrial TV.

    Lithuania’s mobile market is served by Omnitel, Bité and Tele2, as well as by a small number of MVNOs. In addition, the state-owned broadcaster Telecentras has become the fourth mobile operator, with an extensive infrastructure using spectrum formerly assigned to its WiMAX offering and since migrated to an LTE-A platform.

    SIM card penetration is high for the region, and while the prepaid sector accounts for the majority of subscribers the proportion of postpaid services is increasing. With dwindling new subscriber acquisition opportunities, mobile operators are heavily marketing mobile broadband services, made possible from past investments in 3G and HSPA networks and ongoing upgrades with LTE technology. By mid-2016 services based on LTE networks were available to more than 95% of the population.

    As was the case with the mobile voice market, competition is driving down prices for mobile broadband plans, and accelerating customer take-up of mobile broadband services. The acquisition by TEO of the remaining shares in Omnitel, completed in January 2016, has also provided the company with a secure presence in the market for convergent services and bundled offerings.

    The auction of spectrum in a range of bands in January 2016 will also enable the three MNOs to improve on mobile broadband capacity.

    This report provides an overview of Lithuania’s fixed-line communications sector. It includes a variety of statistics from the regulator and the main players, as well as an overview of regulatory developments and telecommunications network infrastructure. This report also offers a wide range of statistical data on the fixed and wireless broadband markets, including forecasts to 2021, as well as an overview of the digital media sector. In addition, the report provides an overview of the highly-developed mobile voice and data market, covering the major operators, regulatory developments, mobile technologies, and services on offer.

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

    Lithuania - Telecoms Mobile Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses


    Georgia’s MagtiCom breaks into the quad play market 20 Sep 2016

    Georgia continues to develop its economy in the face of considerable challenges, not least being a fractured political relationship with Russia and the continuing downturn in the Russian economy which has negatively impacted on its own growth potential. There are also difficulties related to breakaway regions which have been recognised by Russia, and in which Russian telcos are active. However, there is potential for economic growth from closer ties to Europe, while new pipelines running across the territory may lessen Georgia’s dependence on Russia for oil and gas supplies.

    The slow economic growth has impacted on the country’s telecom sector. Revenue from fixed-line voice services has fallen sharply, while revenue from the mobile sector has also fallen in the wake of intense competition compounded by the fall in messaging traffic as subscribers migrate to alternative OTT services. The overall market is largely propped up by the broadband sector, where the number of subscribers continues to increase steadily. The sharp growth in the number of fibre broadband connections has impacted on the DS segment as customers are migrated from copper to fibre networks. This development reflects the significant increase in investment in infrastructure in recent years, spurred by the government’s national broadband plan.

    Since 2003, telecommunications has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the Georgian economy. The share of telecommunications in the country’s GDP reached a high of 7%, though it fell to about 5.6% for 2015.

    Mobile penetration broached 130% by mid-2016. Further growth in mobile broadband is anticipated following the recent multi-spectrum auction, as well as the award of additional spectrum in the 800MHz band in 2016. Spectrum is being made available for LTE services, and the three MNOs are all investing to expand the reach and capabilities of their LTE infrastructures. In mid-2016 MagtiCom claimed that its LTE-A network provided 90% territorial coverage. Mobile networks are crucial for the provision of voice and data services given that fixed-line networks in many parts of the country remain outdated (particularly in rural and remote areas).

    For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Georgia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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