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Afghanistan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Afghanistan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Consolidation likely in Afghanistan mobile market

Afghanistan continues to be confronted on the widest possible front by the challenges of moving from a fragile present into a more stable and positive future. By 2016 despite the positive signs of a civil society taking shape, the country was still suffering from the ongoing conflict and multiple difficulties in administering the nation. After many years of war and civil strife, an encouraging aspect of the country's efforts to rebuild has been the considerable success evident in the creating a functional telecommunications sector virtually from nothing. According to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the telecommunications networks covered around 90% of the population by 2016. Whilst the sector is flourishing, at least in a relative sense, the regulatory side is still in its infancy.

Efforts were made to roll out fixed-line services, but the country's telecommunications services rely heavily on its mobile infrastructure. There are five mobile operators competing in Afghanistan's telecom sector. Between them they claimed a total of more than 25 million subscribers, with an overall mobile penetration of almost 80%. Four of the five were carrying market shares in excess of 20%, while the fifth, Afghan Telecom's Salam was just starting to build its mobile subscriber base. Indeed Afghanistan has a highly competitive mobile market that continues to flourish despite the background of the ongoing conflict throughout the country. Not surprisingly the mobile sector has been boosted by the absence of effective fixed-line alternatives.

More recently, there has been a slump in the mobile market which was attributed to the withdrawal of foreign troops and an exodus of the nation's middle class amidst renewed violence. According to one source, this withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan was expected to lead to consolidation in the nation's mobile market. The exit of foreign troops had resulted in a shortage of high-value customers, leading to a drop of around 30%-40% in the value of the mobile market, according to the source.

In the meantime, internet penetration remains generally low throughout Afghanistan. With internet access initially relying heavily on dial-up services and an extremely low number of broadband subscribers in place, the online segment of the market was looking for a boost. That boost came in the form of 3G mobile licences. The 3G services being offered by the various operators had been launched in 2013 and were providing a special opportunity for delivering mobile broadband to Afghanistan's population. Coming into 2016, there were around two million 3G mobile broadband subscribers in the country; however, this was only 8% of the total mobile subscriber base.

The political and civil stability of the country is a dark cloud hanging over the country; it is of course a particular threat to the effectiveness of the telecommunications network and the viability of the telecommunications sector. Nevertheless, there does appear to be a will to secure the future of telecommunications in Afghanistan.

Key developments:

Afghanistan's mobile market has continued on its positive expansion path into 2016;
mobile subscriber growth looks to be ongoing in the range 5% to 10% per annum in 2016;
mobile penetration has reached 80% under a generally difficult market environment;
mobile coverage (population) has passed 90% according to the MCIT;
all five of the mobile operators have been assigned 3G concessions;
by the time AWCC launched its 3G network in 2015, all five operators had launched 3G;
some early moves were being made for the adoption of 4G technology;
there are suggestions that the mobile market will undergo consolidation as the operators experience falling revenue with the departure of foreign troops;
the country's internet market continues to struggle but steady growth has been evident;
following a major surge in internet users in 2009/2010, there has been positive growth in internet usage;
the arrival of 3G mobile broadband services has rapidly expanded internet access;
most importantly the price of internet access/usage is dropping;
on a positive note the Afghanistan National Data Centre (ANDC), a government-owned data centre, has been steadily expanding its data centre role;
the country's first satellite, Afghansat-1 was launched in 2015 under a strategic partnership with Eutelsat;
on a broader front, the ongoing political and civil unrest continued to be of concern to the country and its people, with any deterioration in the situation certain to have a negative impact on the telecom sector.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Afghan Telecom/Aftel/Salam Telecom/Networks, Afghan Wireless Communications Company/AWCC, Roshan/ Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd (TDCA), Etisalat Afghanistan, MTN Afghanistan, Wasel Telecom, Ericsson, ZTE.

1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Country overview
3.1 Background
3.2 Economy
4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Market Overview and Analysis
4.2 Historical background
5. Regulatory environment
5.1 Overview
5.2 Regulatory authorities
5.2.1 Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA)
5.2.2 Minister of Communications and Information Technology
5.3 Regulatory developments
5.3.1 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 Overview of the national telecom network
6.1.1 Background 2000/2001
6.1.2 Background - post major conflict
6.2 Fixed-line statistics
6.3 Developments
6.3.1 Optical fibre backbone
6.3.2 AWCC's all-IP infrastructure strategy
6.3.3 Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF)
6.3.4 AWCC's microwave ring
6.4 International infrastructure
6.4.1 Satellite services
7. Fixed network operators
7.1 Overview
7.2 Afghan Telecom
7.3 Other operators and licences
7.3.1 Afghan Wireless Communications Co (AWCC)
7.3.2 Wasel Telecom
7.3.3 Other licences
8. Fixed Internet and broadband market
8.1 Market overview and analysis
8.2 Background
8.3 Statistics
8.4 Forecasts internet subscribers 2015; 2018; 2021
9. Internet Service Providers (ISP)
10. Digital economy
10.1 e-Commerce
10.2 e-Government
10.3 e-Health
10.4 e-Education
10.5 e-Banking
10.6 Afghanistan National Data Centre (ANDC)
10.7 Other digital services
10.7.1 WiFi hotspots
10.7.2 Internet cafes
10.7.3 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
11. Mobile communications
11.1 Market Overview and Analysis
11.2 Mobile statistics
11.2.1 General statistics
11.2.2 Operator statistics
11.3 Mobile forecasts
11.3.1 Forecasts mobile subscribers 2016;2018; 2021
11.3.2 Forecasts mobile broadband subscribers 2016;2018; 2021
11.4 Mobile infrastructure
11.4.1 Introduction
11.4.2 Third Generation (3G)
11.4.3 4G / LTE
11.5 Mobile data services
11.5.1 Mobile banking and m-money
11.5.2 Roshan's Malomat service
12. Mobile operators
12.1 Overview
12.2 Afghan Wireless (AWCC)
12.2.1 Background
12.2.2 Statistics
12.2.3 Developments
12.3 Roshan
12.3.1 Overview
12.3.2 Statistics
12.3.3 Background
12.4 MTN Afghanistan
12.4.1 Overview
12.4.2 Statistics
12.4.3 Developments
12.5 Etisalat Afghanistan
12.5.1 Overview
12.5.2 Statistics
12.5.3 Developments
12.6 Salam Telecom (Aftel)
13. Broadcasting market
13.1 Overview
13.2 Digitalisation
13.3 National broadcaster
13.4 Afghan TV
13.5 Herat TV
13.6 Cable TV
14. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Afghanistan 2015
Table 2 Telephone network statistics 2015
Table 3 Internet statistics 2015
Table 4 Mobile statistics 2015
Table 5 National telecommunications authorities
Table 6 Afghanistan's GDP real growth rate 2006 - 2017
Table 7 Historical - Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity 1994; 2000 - 2008
Table 8 Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity 2009 - 2016
Table 9 Fixed wireless (WLL) subscribers 2011 - 2015
Table 10 Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity wireline v. wireless - 2009 2016
Table 11 Fixed-line subscribers wireline and wireless 2015
Table 12 Afghan Telecom - wireline and wireless subscribers 2012; 2014 - 2015
Table 13 Historical - Internet users (ITU) 2002 - 2006
Table 14 Internet users (ITU) 2007 2015
Table 15 Internet users (MCIT) 2002; 2004; 2006; 2008; 2010 2015
Table 16 Historical - Internet subscribers 2002 - 2004
Table 17 Fixed internet subscribers 2005 - 2016
Table 18 Fixed broadband subscribers 2005 - 2015
Table 19 International internet bandwidth 2005 - 2015
Table 20 Internet traffic incoming - 2002; 2004; 2006; 2008; 2010; 2012 2015
Table 21 Internet price 1Mb/month - 2002; 2004; 2006; 2008; 2010 2015
Table 22 Afghanistan - Facebook users and penetration 2012; 2015
Table 23 Forecast - fixed internet subscribers 2016; 2018; 2021
Table 24 Mobile subscribers and annual change 2002 - 2016
Table 25 3G mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2013 - 2016
Table 26 Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change 2015
Table 27 Market share by major operators 2015
Table 28 Historical - ARPU by operator 2008 - 2012
Table 29 Forecast mobile subscribers 2016; 2018; 2021
Table 30 Forecast mobile broadband subscribers 2016; 2018; 2021
Table 31 AWCC's mobile subscribers 2005 - 2015
Table 32 Roshan's mobile subscribers 2005 - 2015
Table 33 MTN's mobile subscribers 2007 - 2015
Table 34 MTN's ARPU 2011 - 2015
Table 35 Etisalat's mobile subscribers 2007 - 2015
Table 36 Key broadcasting statistics 2015
Chart 1 - Afghanistans GDP real growth rate - 2006 2017
Chart 2 - Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity - 2009 - 2016
Chart 3 - Internet users and penetration - 2010 2015
Chart 4 - Mobile subscribers and annual change - 2006 - 2016
Chart 5 - Market share by major operators 2015
Exhibit 1 Awarding of 3G licences by operator and date
Exhibit 2 Launch of 3G services by operator and date

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