Liberia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Liberia’s international gateway system under scrutiny

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 MTN), Comium (Novafone), Cellcom and LiberCell.

Internet services are available from a number of wireless ISPs as well as the mobile operators. The high cost and limited bandwidth of connections means that internet access is expensive and data rates are very low. Although additional bandwidth is available from an international submarine cable, considerable investment is still needed in domestic fixed-line infrastructure before end-users can make full use of the cable.

In the mobile sector, competition has resulted in relatively low call prices despite the lack of basic infrastructure in the country. The harmonisation of a disorderly licensing and spectrum allocation regime has caused some difficulties, and market penetration remains low compared to other countries in the region.

The privatisation of the neglected incumbent telco Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco) failed in 2005 though efforts to resuscitate the company have continued.

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.

Key developments:

  • Global Voice Group (GVG) delivers International Gateway Management System;
  • Google takes steps to improve internet availability in Liberia;
  • Orange Group rebrands Cellcom Liberia as Orange Liberia;
  • Orange Liberia expands the reach of its LTE network;
  • Orange Liberia extends LTE outside Monrovia;
  • Underfunded telecoms regulator failing to monitor sector effectively;
  • Regulator to receive portion of operator revenue under new payment regime;
  • Government and regulator impose SIM card registration in a bid to reduce crime;
  • Libtelco launches first phase of its fibre network in tie-up to the ACE cable system;
  • Report update includes telcos’ operating data to Q3 2017, recent market developments.
  • Companies mentioned in this report:

Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC, Libtelco), MTN Liberia (LoneStar), Cellcom, Comium (Novafone), LiberCell, Globacom, West Africa Telecom (WAT).

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Historical overview
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Historical overview
    • 5.2 Liberia Telecommunications Act
    • 5.3 Regulatory authority
    • 5.4 ICT Policy and ICT Act
    • 5.5 Privatisation
    • 5.6 International gateways
    • 5.7 Universal Access Program (UAP)
    • 5.8 Universal licence
  • 6. Fixed-line operators
    • 6.1 Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (LTC, Libtelco)
    • 6.2 West Africa Telecom (WAT)
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
      • 7.2.1 Satellite
      • 7.2.2 Submarine fibre
  • 8. Fixed-line broadband market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
    • 8.2 Broadband statistics
    • 8.3 Internet banking
    • 8.4 Broadband technologies
      • 8.4.1 Fixed wireless (Wi-Fi and WiMAX)
  • 9. Mobile market
    • 9.1 Market analysis
    • 9.2 Mobile statistics
      • 9.2.1 General statistics
    • 9.3 Mobile data
      • 9.3.1 SMS
    • 9.4 Mobile broadband
    • 9.5 Regulatory issues
      • 9.5.1 Licence reform
      • 9.5.2 GSM spectrum reallocation
      • 9.5.3 Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs)
      • 9.5.4 SIM card registration
    • 9.6 Mobile infrastructure
      • 9.6.1 Digital networks
    • 9.7 Major mobile operators
      • 9.7.1 MTN Liberia (LoneStar)
      • 9.7.2 Orange Liberia (Cellcom)
      • 9.7.3 Novafone GSM (Comium)
      • 9.7.4 LiberCell
    • 9.8 Mobile content and applications
      • 9.8.1 Agricultural Market Information and Linkage System (AMILS)
      • 9.8.2 m-health
      • 9.8.3 m-money
  • 10. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Liberia – 2017 (e)
  • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 4 – Mobile statistics – 2017 (e)
  • Table 5 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 6 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Liberia – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 7 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Liberia – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 8 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Liberia – 2007 – 2018
  • Table 9 – International internet bandwidth – 2008 - 2016
  • Table 10 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate in Liberia – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 11 – Internet users and penetration rate in Liberia – 2010 - 2018
  • Table 12 – Fixed broadband subscribers in Liberia – 2008 - 2018
  • Table 13 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Liberia – 2001 - 2018
  • Table 14 – SMS traffic – 2008 - 2017
  • Table 15 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2009 - 2017
  • Table 16 – LoneStar/MTN Liberia subscribers, ARPU and market share – 2003 - 2017
  • Table 17 – LoneStar/MTN Liberia revenue – 2013 - 2016
  • Table 18 – Cellcom mobile subscribers – 2012 - 2017
  • Table 19 – Novafone mobile subscribers – 2012 - 2016
  • Chart 1 – Internet users and penetration rate in Liberia – 2005 – 2018
  • Chart 2 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Liberia – 2001 - 2018
  • Exhibit 1 – Map of Liberia

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