Bhutan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 18 Aug 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 78

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Bhutan’s telecom regulator develops 5G spectrum strategy

The telecom market in Bhutan is dominated by the mobile sector, which accounts for the vast majority of voice and data connections. This is partly the result of poor fixed-line infrastructure, and topographic issues which has rendered it easier to deliver services based on mobile infrastructure.

The fixed broadband sector is similarly limited. The number of subscriptions fell in the first half of 2020, and development in the sector is expected to be stagnant over the next five years.

While investment is focussed on mobile infrastructure, Bhutan Telecom in late 2019 deployed an emergency telecom network, designed to be usable in the event of natural disasters.

The two mobile network operators have extended the reach of LTE, and by mid-2020 about 60% of all mobile internet users were on this platform. In early 2020 the regulator published its framework for the deployment of 5G, cautiously noting that it preferred to learn from the experiences in other markets before committing to a launch, and thus 5G is not expected to be widely available in Bhutan until at least 2024.

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:

  • Telecom regulator develops 5G spectrum plan;
  • Tashi Cell makes gains in mobile market;
  • Operators extend LTE network reach;
  • Report includes the regulator’s 2019 market report, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses; assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report

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

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