Albania’s low broadband penetration stimulated by mobile broadband sector
Albania’s telecom market has considerable room for further development given that in most sectors it remains far below European levels of maturity. The fixed-line sector has one of the lowest penetration rates in the region, at about 12%, and this has impacted on consumer take up of broadband services, which is also very low. On the other hand, poor fixed-line infrastructure has encouraged consumer use of mobile telephony, and now Albania boasts one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Europe.
The country has sought accession to the European Union (EU) which has benefited its telecoms sector through closer scrutiny of its regulatory regime and through the injection of funding to help modernise infrastructure. Albania signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, which came into force in mid-2009. As part of the EU pre-accession process, Albania has received financial aid to build public institutions and improve cross-border co-operation under the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance funding mechanism.
Albania’s economy has enjoyed strong growth in GDP throughout the GFC, albeit from a low base. It has weathered the economic impact resulting from the faltering economies of its main trading partners Italy and Greece, though resulting in lower expected GDP growth for 2012 than in former years.
Future network development has been undertaken to support the growing popularity of broadband services: given the low broadband penetration level, Albania’s internet market offers considerable growth potential, which is in part being met by the two 3G operators. This has gone far to alleviate poor connectivity in rural areas.
Albania’s mobile market has undergone rapid growth due to competition, with four operators including Vodafone, Eagle Mobile, Cosmote’s AMC and Plus Communication offering services. Operators are looking to mobile data applications and services to increase ARPU.
The 3G sector was stimulated by the launch of a second 3G service in late 2011. By early 2012 there were 285,000 subscribers who used 3G wireless network cards and modem devices.
Further regulatory measures are required in the underdeveloped mobile sector: mobile licences are not technology neutral, nor is there provision for MVNOs to enter the market. Restrictions on refarming 900/1800MHz 2G spectrum for 3G services will also retard the development of mobile broadband and high-end mobile data services: refarming frequencies in these bands would be in line with developments elsewhere in Europe.
A public consultation to reduce SMS tariffs to 2013 will stimulate consumer use of the service following a dip in 2009. Prices remain high by comparison with neighbouring Balkan countries.
Following market liberalisation in 2007, several alternative operators now offer services and the market’s growth potential has attracted international investment. Yet Albania’s fixed-line penetration, at about 11%, is among the lowset in the region. This has stymied the development of the broadband market yet resulted in the very rapid adoption of mobile phones as the preferred means of communications.
Upgrades to the Bari-Durres Cable System, owned by Albtelecom and Telecom Italia Sparkle, from 2.5Gb/s to 20Gb/s will considerably boost Albania’s international connectivity and enable consumers to make greater use of IP-data and services.
Most of Albtelecom’s DSL subscribers are serviced through an FttN network: regulatory changes are required to enable altnets to have access to this network, which would stimulate broadband connectivity in coming years.
The tender for the third 3G licence failed in early 2012 due to low bids from two operators.
Henry Lancaster August 2012
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.
This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Albania’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments; Facts, figures and statistics; Industry and regulatory issues; Infrastructure; Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU, MoU; Internet, VoIP, IPTV; Mobile voice and data markets; Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless); Convergence and digital media; 3G subscriber and mobile ARPU forecasts to 2015; Broadband market forecasts for selective years to 2020.
SMS tariffs reduced; number portability reaches 59,000; second 3G service launches; regulator market data for 2011; operator data to June 2012; market developments to mid-2012.
Companies covered in this report include:
Vodafone Albania, Albtelecom, AMC, Cosmote, Turk Telecom, Primo Communications, Eagle Mobile.This report is essential reading for those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in Albania.
It provides further information on:
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues; The impact of the global economic crisis; Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences; Mobile data market developments in coming years in light of spectrum auctions and new license awards in 2011; 3G developments, regulatory issues and technologies; Broadband migration to an FttH architecture; Historical and current subscriber statistics and forecasts; ARPU statistics and forecasts.