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Albania - Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts


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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.

Economic background

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.

Broadband market

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.

Mobile market

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.

Key telecom parameters – 2010; 2012
Sector | 2010 | 2012 (e)

Subscribers to telecoms services (thousand):

Fixed-broadband | 120 | 205
Fixed-line telephony | 331 | 340
Mobile telephony | 4,547 | 5,150

Subscriber penetration rate:

Fixed-broadband | 3.7% | 6.1%
Fixed-line telephony | 11% | 12%
Mobile SIM | 148% | 159%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Market highlights:

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.

Subjects include:

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.

Key developments:

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.


1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
2.1 Country overview
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Overview of Albania’s telecom market
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Background
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.2.1 Authority of Electronic and Postal Communications (AKEP)
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Albania
4.3.1 Privatisation
4.3.2 Interconnection
4.3.3 Number Portability (NP)
4.3.4 Tariff rebalancing
4.3.5 Universal Service Obligation (USO)
5. Fixed network operators in Albania
5.1 Albtelecom
5.2 Albania Online/Albanian Fibre Backbone (AFB)/Primo
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.2 International infrastructure
7. Broadband market
7.1 Overview
7.2 Internet society developments
7.3 Albanian National Broadband Network
7.4 Broadband statistics
7.5 ISP market
7.6 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
7.7 Wireless broadband
7.8 Mobile broadband
8. Digital media
8.1 Overview of broadcasting market
8.2 Cable TV (CATV)
8.3 Satellite-based digital pay TV developments
8.4 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)
8.5 Broadband TV (IPTV)
8.6 Bundled services
9. Mobile communications
9.1 Overview of Albania’s mobile market
9.1.1 Mobile statistics
9.2 Regulatory issues
9.2.1 Second digital mobile licence
9.2.2 Third digital mobile licence
9.2.3 Fourth digital mobile licence
9.2.4 3G/UMTS licences
9.2.5 Significant Market Power (SMP)
9.2.6 Mobile Termination Rates
9.2.7 Retail tariff regulation
9.2.8 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
9.3 Mobile technologies
9.4 Prepaid
9.5 Major mobile operators
9.5.1 Albanian Mobile Communications (AMC)
9.5.2 Vodafone
9.5.3 Eagle Mobile
9.6 Mobile voice services
9.6.1 Prepaid
9.7 Mobile data services
9.7.1 Short Message Service (SMS)/Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
9.7.2 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
9.7.3 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
9.7.4 Mobile TV
9.8 Mobile content and applications
10. Forecasts
10.1 Forecasts – fixed broadband subscribers – 2010 - 2013; 2020
10.1.1 Scenario 1 – higher broadband subscriber growth
10.1.2 Scenario 2 – lower broadband subscriber growth
10.2 Notes on scenario forecasts
11. Related reports
List of Tables and Charts
Table 1 – Country statistics Albania – 2012 (e)
Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2011
Table 4 – Broadband subscriber statistics – 2012
Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
Table 7 – Telecom market revenue – 2009 - 2013
Table 8 – Telecom market share of revenue by operator– 2010 - 2011
Table 9 – Revenue by operator– 2008 - 2011
Table 10 – Telecom investment by sector– 2010 - 2011
Table 11 – Telecom services penetration by type, with EU average – 2011
Table 12 – Fixed-line and mobile traffic – 2002 - 2012
Table 13 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 - 2013
Table 14 – Fixed-broadband market share by operator – 2010 - 2011
Table 15 – Fixed and mobile broadband market share by operator – 2011
Table 16 – Fixed broadband subscribers by operator – 2010 - 2011
Table 17 – Internet infrastructure and connectivity – 2011
Table 18 – Broadband subscribers and penetration rates – 2007 - 2013
Table 19 – Internet users, subscribers and penetration rates – 2000 - 2013
Table 20 – Mobile internet subscribers by mobile operator– 2011
Table 21 – Bundled services subscribers and penetration – Jun 2011
Table 22 – Mobile subscriber market share by operator – 2009 - 2011
Table 23 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2013
Table 24 – Active SMI cards (within three months) – 2010 – 2011
Table 25 – Mobile subscribers by operator – 2003 – 2011
Table 26 – Mobile revenue by operator – 2003 – 2011
Table 27 – Total mobile revenue – 2010 – 2011
Table 28 – AMC MTRs – 2005 - 2011
Table 29 – AMC financial data – 2005 - 2012
Table 30 – AMC ARPU and MOU – 2006 - 2009
Table 31 – AMC mobile subscribers – 2006 - 2012
Table 32 – Vodafone subscribers – 2008 - 2012
Table 33 – Vodafone prepaid subscribers – 2005 - 2012
Table 34 – Total SMS messages sent – 2002 - 2012
Table 35 – Total MMS messages sent – 2010 - 2011
Table 36 – GPRS/EDGE subscribers by operator – 2010 – 2011
Table 37 – Forecast fixed broadband subscribers – higher growth scenario – 2010 - 2013; 2020
Table 38 – Forecast fixed broadband subscribers – lower growth scenario – 2010 - 2013; 2020
Chart 1 – Fixed-line and mobile traffic – 2002 – 2012
Chart 2 – Fixed lines in service by operator – 2002 – 2013
Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2001 – 2013
Chart 4 – Mobile subscribers by operator – 2003 – 2011
Chart 5 – Mobile revenue by operator – 2003 – 2011
Chart 6 – AMC financial data – 2005 – 2012

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