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Bhutan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 20 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 85

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Bhutan’s fixed line market continues to decline

The number of fixed telephone lines in Bhutan is gradually declining from a relatively small base as the mobile segment continues to expand driven by the mobile broadband segment.

Fixed broadband penetration continues to grow strongly but from a very small base. Over the next five years to 2024 low to moderate growth is expected from this small base. Fixed broadband penetration rates will continue to be much lower in the longer term than mobile broadband penetration rates as mobile networks will continue to dominate fixed line networks.

Bhutan Telecom and Ericsson have deployed a disaster resilient, emergency telecom core network as part of a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) project and in partnership with Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

The mobile market in Bhutan has grown moderately over the past few years however the growth rate has subsided over the past few years as the mobile market begins to mature.

The mobile networks have provided a major boost to internet access in the country, with 4G platforms now gaining traction in Bhutan with both major mobile operators offering 4G services. 4G/WiMAX networks now cover well over half of the country. Slower and declining growth is predicted to continue over the next five years to 2024 as the mobile subscriber market further matures.

The mobile broadband market in Bhutan has grown very strongly over the past few years. However slower and declining growth is predicted to continue over the next five years to 2024 as the mobile broadband subscriber market further matures.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 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.

Key developments:

  • Bhutan's telecom sector has been continuing a steady development path.
  • TashiCell has been bridging the gap over the past few years in the mobile market.
  • Mobile broadband has seen strong growth and this is expected to continue at a slower rate.
  • 4G LTE networks have now gained strong traction in Bhutan.
  • Assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector.

Companies mentioned in this report

Bhutan Telecom, B-Mobile, DrukNet, Samden Tech, Tashi InfoComm, TashiCell, Ericsson, Reliance, Airtel.

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