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Laos - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 21 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 95

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

The Laos telecoms market finally gains some momentum

The telecom sector in Laos still has numerous issues to address. For a number of years, the rate of regulatory reform has been well behind wider industry development. However, Laos has started to make significant progress in strengthening of its telecommunications infrastructure. As a result, it attracted more foreign investment into the sector.

The Laos economy continues to perform well. In the last decade there certainly has been a noticeable shift in the economic and social outlook for Laos. Most importantly, a significant number of hydro-electric power projects and mining ventures have become a reality, with even more possible projects in the pipeline.

The provision of fixed internet services has been slow, this being a major concern in terms of the overall social and economic development of the country.

Fixed broadband penetration in Laos remains limited in scale and nature and extremely low mainly due to a limited number of fixed lines as well as the dominance of the mobile platform. Over the next five years to 2023 growth is expected to continue but overall market penetration will remain extremely low.

The country’s mobile sector has been going through a difficult period. Whilst subscriber growth had picked up to some extent after the market had gone backwards for a while, the mobile operators are now operating in an environment where the regulator is keeping a tight hold on pricing and open competition is in effect discouraged.

In contrast there has been the rapid expansion of mobile broadband internet services on the back of the large-scale launch of 4G services by the mobile operators. Laos has seen a strong increase in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years, however the mobile broadband market is still at an early stage of development and penetration remains relatively low compared to other Asian nations. Strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2023.

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:

  • Fixed broadband penetration in Laos remains limited in scale and nature
  • After peaking in 2011 mobile subscriber penetration in Laos declined, since then there had been some recovery.
  • Low to moderate mobile subscriber growth is predicted over the next five years to 2023.
  • There has been the rapid expansion of mobile broadband internet services on the back of the large-scale launch of 4G services.
  • Assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Lao Telecom (LTC), Thaicom, ETL, Unitel, Lao Asia Telecom, Star Telecom, Viettel, Beeline, Millicom, Vimpelcom, Planet Online, Sky Telecom, China-APMT.

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