The Macau - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband report includes all BuddeComm research data and analysis on this country. Covering trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, internet, broadband, infrastructure and regulation.
Macau, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, remains very low profile compared with its bustling sister SAR, Hong Kong. The country has quietly built itself a strong modern telecoms infrastructure, the equal of any country in the region, with very significant penetration of telecom services.
While fixed lines reached an effective saturation point a few years ago, the country’s mobile market has been growing strongly and had become one of the most highly penetrated in the world. Macau has been busy adopting the Internet and the administration appears keen to encourage this. Broadband Internet, using mainly DSL, has been developing quickly.
The territory of Macau has a fully integrated telecom network which compares well with the best in Asia. The last remaining Portuguese colony in Asia, Macau reverted to Mainland Chinese rule in December 1999, becoming a SAR of China. The Macau Government privatised its telecommunications system very early on - in 1981 - and chose Cable & Wireless to operate and expand the service.
As fixed-line numbers plateau and decline, the mobile telephone market has taken off strongly. There were over 900,000 mobile subscribers by end-2008, representing a penetration rate of over 180%. In the meantime, fixed-line penetration was languishing below 35%.
Rapid growth in the mobile sector can be attributed to the opening of the mobile market in August 2001 to two new operators, providing competition to Macau Telecom. The licences allowed Hutchison and SmarTone to provide and operate mobile networks based on 2G technology and the transitional 2.5G technology platforms.
Further competition entered the market in 2005 when the government awarded mainland China mobile giant China Unicom a licence to set up a CDMA network in Macau. The move by China Unicom into the Macau market was the first example of a Chinese telecom company setting up a network outside the mainland. Macau Telecom’s market share had dropped to just over 40% by end-2008.
By late 2006, Macau had awarded 3G licences to Hutchison Telephone Macau and CTM to provide WCDMA services. This was followed by China Unicom winning a licence in 2007 to provide services based on the alternative 3G standard CDMA2000 1x EV-DO. In late 2008, the China Unicom brand changed to China Telecom Macau, following restructuring of the telecommunications industry in China.
Mobile communications and Internet-related services look like continuing to be among the better performing segments of the industry, boosted by the partial liberalisation of Macau’s telecom services market. A new contract between the government and CTM signed in 1999 has allowed gradual and partial liberalisation of the market (mobiles, Internet and other Value-Added Services) to take place.