The government of Belarus has successfully promoted the migration to an all-IP platform as part of a wider effort towards a digital transformation for the economy. In the process, the state-supported infrastructure operator beCloud has built an extensive fibre network which reaches all but the smallest settlements in the country. Belarus has the second highest fibre penetration rate in Europe, behind only Iceland. LTE coverage is almost universal, while considerable progress has also been made in developing 5G services.
On the down side, the country faces considerable political and economic turmoil, and telcos have had to invest in network infrastructure while managing a significant fall in the value of the local currency (particularly against the euro and the US dollar).
Although the sector has been reformed, this has not yet resulted in the privatisation of the incumbent, despite the government being pressed to sell state enterprises in a bid to reduce overall debt. Revenue growth for Beltelecom is expected to come from the FttP sector, where much of the company’s capex is directed.
BuddeComm notes that the Coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year, the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure.
Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.
Beltelecom, Cosmos TV, Minsk TV and Information Networks (MTIS), Teleradio, Belcel, A1 Belarus (MDC), MTS Belarus, BeST life:)
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