After more than a decade of civil war which destroyed much of its infrastructure, Liberia became a prime example of an almost entirely wireless telecommunications market. Four mobile operators compete for customers – LoneStar (majority owned by South Africa’s MTN), Comium (Novafone), Cellcom and LiberCell.
Internet services are available from a number of wireless ISPs as well as the mobile networks using GPRS, EDGE, HSPA and WiMAX and 3G technologies. The high cost and limited bandwidth of connections means that most service offerings remain expensive and are below recognised broadband speeds. Nevertheless, substantial improvement have resulted from the landing of the first international fibre optic submarine cable in the country, though this still requires considerable investment in domestic fixed-line infrastructure for end-users to gain full benefit from the cable.
In the mobile sector, competition has led to some of the lowest call prices in Africa despite the lack of basic infrastructure in the country which has resulted in an expensive operating environment. The harmonisation of the disorderly licensing and spectrum allocation regime inherited from previous governments has proven difficult. However, market penetration remains low compared to other markets in the region.
An attempt to privatise the dysfunctional fixed network operator, the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (now Libtelco), failed in 2005. Since then, efforts to resuscitate the previously neglected incumbent have continued. A wireless 3G system based on CDMA EV-DO technology enabled the company to enter the mobile market as a fifth player and to provide wireless broadband services. There are also plans for a national fibre backbone network. These assets would create an attractive opportunity to a strategic investor in a likely renewed privatisation in the near future.
The market is ineffectively monitored by the telecom regulator, which lacks the resources, technical expertise and documentation to enforce its orders. As a result, a number of operators are able to avoid paying dues to the government, and operate despite the regulator’s rulings that they must cease operating in the market.
|Penetration of telecoms services:||Penetration|
|Mobile SIM (population)||84.8%|
Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC, Libtelco), MTN Liberia (LoneStar), Cellcom, Comium (Novafone), LiberCell, Globacom, West Africa Telecom (WAT).
Companies (Major Players)
Mobile & Wireless Broadband and Media
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Regulations & Government Policies
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)
Number of pages 37
Last updated 1 Nov 2016
Lead Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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