Palau - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

International submarine cable for Palau well underway

Out of necessity, and similar to other Pacific Islands nations, it is mobile services which have thrived in Palau. This is due to the difficult geographic environment which is spread across around 300 islands and is unsuitable for widespread fixed telephony infrastructure. In 2016 fixed broadband penetration sat at only around 6% while mobile penetration exceeded 110%, due to multiple mobile subscriptions.

3G services are provided in Palau over satellite with O3b Networks (now part of SES Networks) being a major provider. In 2016 both Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC) and Palau Telecoms, which offers wireless broadband internet services, underwent capacity upgrades with O3b.

In recent times, there has been growing international scrutiny over the lack of formal telecoms regulations and a Regulatory body in Palau. This is in part due to the fibre-optic submarine cable which is being built and will link to Guam.

In 2016 Palau secured a loan from the Asian Development Bank to be used to connect to Guam as part of the wider SEA-US project. In 2017 the cable build-out is well underway and Flexenclosure was awarded the contract for building the landing station in Palau.

Overall, Palau offers a well-developed mobile sector which has been recently boosted by satellite network capacity upgrades as well as the submarine cable venture. Palau is one of the Pacific’s most successful small islands for mobile telecommunications connectivity.

Please note: information on Palau’s telecoms market can be difficult to obtain due to small size of the market, lack of competition and absence of a telecoms Regulator.

Key telecom parameters – 2013; 2015

Sector 2013 2015
Approximate subscribers to telecoms services: (e)
Fixed Broadband users 1,805 1,224
Fixed-line telephony 7,263 7,204
Mobile phone 17,900 23,700

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

Key developments:

  • Work to link Palau to the SEA-US submarine cable project is under way in 2017 with services expected to be available by the end of the year/early 2018.
  • Palau’s own dated cable system will be upgraded with planned US$5 million infrastructure upgrade.
  • Palau Telecom upgraded its satellite capacity arrangements with O3b a number of times.
  • In mid-2016 PNCC also upgraded its capacity to meet growing 3G data usage demands.
  • Fixed line teledensity in Paula has hovered around the 34% mark for the past few years.
  • Pre-paid plans have become very popular in Palau and account for the majority of mobile subscriptions.

Companies covered in this report include:

Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC); Palau Telecom; Asian Development Bank (ADB), O3b Networks (SES Networks), Belau Submarine Cable Company (BSCC).

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Historical overview
    • 4.2 Market analysis
    • 4.3 Recent developments
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Overview
  • 6. Fixed network operator
    • 6.1 Palau National Communications Corporation (PNCC)
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
      • 7.2.1 Satellite networks
      • 7.2.2 Submarine cable network for Palau
  • 8. Broadband access market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
    • 8.2 Wireless broadband
      • 8.2.1 Palau Telecoms
  • 9. Mobile communications
    • 9.1 market analysis
    • 9.2 Mobile statistics
  • 10. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Palau – 2016
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2015
  • Table 3 – Broadband statistics – 2015
  • Table 4 – Mobile statistics – 2015
  • Table 5 – GDP in Paula – 2011 - 2016
  • Table 6 – PNCC revenue by division - 2013 – 2015
  • Table 7 – Palau - fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2006 - 2015
  • Table 8 – Palau – fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2006 - 2015
  • Table 9 – PNCC (PalauCel) prepaid and postpaid subscribers – 2011 - 2015
  • Table 10 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2006 - 2015
  • Exhibit 1 – Historical - Pacific Rural Internet Connectivity System (PacRICS)

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