Namibia was one of the last countries in Africa to introduce competition in the mobile communications sector when a second network finally launched in 2007. Despite this relative lack of market competition, the country has achieved a telecom penetration rate well above the regional average. However, the average revenue per user has more than halved since then. Both GSM operators – MTC (managed by Portugal Telecom) and TN Mobile (formerly Cell One and Leo, now owned by Telecom Namibia) – have entered the internet and broadband market with 3G mobile broadband services in a bid to create new revenue streams. MTC introduced fourth generation (4G) technology in May 2012 when it launched an LTE network in the capital, Windhoek. In addition, Telecom Namibia (TN) offers 3G mobile broadband services using EV-DO technology, and in 2013 contracted ZTE to roll out a network to provide converged fixed and mobile services, including LTE.
Fixed-line services are still a monopoly of TN, but as a member of the WTO the government plans to open the telecom sector to full competition. TN entered the lucrative mobile market as the third player with a CDMA network but was put on hold by the industry regulator, the Namibian Communications Commission, until a new communications law was enacted which, among other issues, addresses fixed-mobile convergence. Since then, however, the absence of effective regulation during the transition to a new regulatory authority, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia, has led to further delays in market liberalisation.
Although Namibia’s internet and broadband sector is reasonably competitive, with six ISPs active, its development was long held back by high prices for international bandwidth caused by the lack of a direct connection to international submarine fibre optic cables. This changed in 2011 when the WACS cable landed in the country. International cable services were launched in May 2012. In parallel, Namibia is working to diversify its transit access routes via neighbouring countries, but broadband price reductions on the retail level have remained moderate.
The country’s boom in broadband services has been helped by developments with 3G and 4G mobile services, as well as by investments in national fibre backbone infrastructure. Several WiMAX and other wireless broadband services offer additional access options and are standing by to bring additional competition to the voice market as well, once internet telephony is deregulated.
MNOs begin glide-path reduction in mobile roaming for Southern African markets; Regulator encourages mobile infrastructure sharing in bid to increase coverage nationally by 2030;
MTN announces plans to sell a 30% interest in its local operation;
Telecom Namibia shuts down CDMA network;
Namibian government plans to break link between Telecom Namibia and MTC by dissolving the holding company NPTH;
LTE fourth generation (4G) mobile services launched;
WACS international submarine fibre optic cable secures two upgrades;
3G mobile broadband prices remain stable following 4G launch;
Could I thank you for making a contribution to this on so many occasions and declare my association with you as a Central Coast resident. I want to say how proud we are of you and how much your expertise has informed us.
Senator Deborah O’Neill, at the Select Senate Committee on the NBN – March 2014