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2008 Asia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Subjects covered include:

  • Key Statistics;
  • Market and Industry Overviews;
  • Regulatory Environment;
  • Major Players (fixed and mobile);
  • Infrastructure;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Broadband;
  • Digital Media.


Executive Summary

BuddeComm’s Annual Publication provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in telecommunications, broadcasting and pay TV markets in: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Afghanistan

As the political and social rebuilding of the country proceeds following years of war and civil unrest, the country has been busy putting new national telecommunications infrastructure in place. Telecommunications has already started to play a big role in helping repair the Afghanistan economy and society.

A properly functioning basic telephone network has been and continues to be a high priority for the Afghani Government. As part of this commitment, an important step was the creation of the Ministry of Communications in 2002, followed by the establishment of a regulator, the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority in 2005.

With ongoing unrest in the country and the recovery from war not yet complete, one of the big challenges for the country has been to attract and manage foreign investment. There have been some positive signs in the telecom sector in this regard and, interestingly, for a period the telecom sector was the only one in the country that was attracting any foreign capital.

With two mobile operators already in place, the MoC announced in late 2005 that two more mobile licences had been awarded. In July 2006, the Investcom/Alokozai consortium launched its Areeba Afghanistan service in four provinces and by mid-2007 the new operator already had 500,000 subscribers, as the overall market pushed along at an annual growth rate of around 70%. In a similar story, UAE’s Etisalat was awarded a GSM licence in May 2006 and beginning its operations in August 2007, launched a network with coverage of the country’s main cities, picking up 200,000 subscribers in the first month.

Bangladesh

Despite being one of the poorest, most densely populated, least developed countries in the world, Bangladesh has found a way to grow its telecommunications sector. It has done this by creating a highly competitive mobile market and encouraging healthy foreign participation. The country is still struggling with its lowly economic status, frequent natural disasters such cyclones and floods and the slow implementation of much-needed economic reforms. This state of affairs is reflected in the fixed-line segment of the local telecom market which remains stagnant with a teledensity of less than 1%, the lowest in South Asia. With almost 99% of homes lacking a telephone and with a four year waiting list for fixed-line services, the country is still struggling with some of the most underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure in the world.

So it is with some fascination that the outsider observes what has been and continues to be a booming mobile market in Bangladesh. After a number of years of strong growth, mobile penetration was approaching 25% coming into 2008 and the market was still growing at an annual rate of around 75%. The challenge for the operators is to maintain viable business models, given that ARPU falls as they chase subscribers in the rural areas where 80% of the population lives in 86,000 villages. The market was given a real boost when, in early 2008, the Vodafone Group signalled that it was looking to buy a 30% stake in mobile operator AkTel.

The Maldives

The Maldives prides itself on having built one of the most advanced telecommunications systems in the region. With the country’s well-developed national network, the capital Malé is particularly well served, as are the tourist resort islands. The critical issue of connectivity to the rest of the world for its relatively small population of 300,000 has been addressed with considerable success; this has been further enhanced by the recent provision of a major submarine cable connection to Sri Lanka; at the same time the opportunity was taken to provide submarine cable links between the main atolls, thereby substantially strengthening the domestic connectivity. Incumbent national telco, Dhiraagu, which has been criticised over the years for its high tariff structure, has played an undeniably important role in the successful setting up of the country’s telecom infrastructure.

Dhiraagu’s monopoly was officially set to run out in 2008, but the government was keen to open up the market earlier than that. The licensing of a second ISP in 2002 signalled the government’s intention to move ahead of time. Then, in 2004, a second mobile licence was issued. Although the new mobile operator Wataniya Telecom was tardy in becoming operational, it launched in 2006. By September 2007, it had 62,000 subscribers, an almost 25% share of the market.

Pakistan

Pakistan has begun to experience sustained growth in its telecom sector, and especially the mobile segment of the market. This pattern has emerged after many years of relatively low growth and market uncertainty. The 2006/07 period has been a remarkable period for the mobile operators in the country, as the total subscriber base moved from 22 million at the beginning of 2006 to 77 million at the end of 2007. By early 2008, the 50% penetration milestone had been reached, probably much faster than most people expected.

There is no doubt that the arrival of two new operators - UAE-based Warid Telecom and Norway’s Telenor, who entered the mobile sector with impressive debuts in 2005 - has had an enormous impact on the market. This quickly resulted in increased competition and spurred growth in the country’s mobile sector. Telenor attracted 839,000 subscribers in the space of a few months and Warid added 509,000 customers in an even shorter period of time. By end-2005, Telenor had 1,870,000 subscribers and Warid Telecom claimed 2,070,000. Between them, they had rapidly grabbed 18% of the booming market. By end-2007, their combined share of the almost 80 million strong market had reached 35%. Strong marketing by the operators has been central to Pakistan’s mobile growth phenomenon.

In the meantime, fixed-line penetration in the country stood at just over 4% (7 million lines) in early 2008, leaving plenty of room for further expansion. The government has indicated that it is continuing to pursue its targeted national teledensity of 7% (around 10 million lines) by 2010. To achieve this target, though, around 1 million additional lines need to be installed each year. Internet penetration remains low in the country, with little apparent interest in the marketplace in broadband access. With competition spreading through the market, however, development is accelerating and it may impact on the Internet segment soon.

Sri Lanka

A modern progressive telecommunications sector still remains a high priority for Sri Lanka and the country is continuing its efforts to achieve this. Progress is being made, but with ongoing political problems still hovering in the background. The mobile sector in Sri Lanka has continued to grow at an annual rate of around 50% coming into 2008. With mobile penetration was at around 40% by end-2007, this is relatively low compared with some of the other more developed Asian markets and the current strong growth will more than likely to continue.

The country’s fixed-line teledensity stood at 12% by end-2006, the number of fixed line subscribers having jumped by 100% in a two year period. This was evidence that low fixed-line penetration levels have been more a result of acute supply constraints rather than a lack of demand for service. The growth surge was spurred on by the extensive use of WLL services to meet demand. There were still a significant number of customers waiting for a basic telephone, but there were healthy signs that infrastructure problems were being addressed.

Market reform still demands attention as this is central to ensuring continuing growth. The market has undoubtedly benefited from the liberalisation of the market and the competition that comes with having four mobile operators battling for market share. This is despite one of these - Dialog - having close to 55% market share. Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) progressively losing its monopoly on a range of services has led the way as the market is made more interesting for new players.

Key highlights

  • Afghanistan’s rapidly expanding mobile market was impressive, with 100% growth in 2007;
  • Early signs of a boom in Internet usage in Afghanistan with an estimated one million users by end-2007;
  • In Bangladesh, mobile subscriber numbers more than trebled in the two years to December 2007 and the market was continuing its strong growth;
  • The Maldives has benefited from its newly competitive market, with overall service improving greatly since the arrival of Wataniya Telecom;
  • Wataniya has quickly grabbed 30% of the mobile market in the Maldives;
  • Pakistan has also seen its mobile sector boosted by increased competition, with newcomers Warid Telecom and Telenor claiming a big stake in that market;
  • By end-2007, their combined share of the almost 80 million strong Pakistan mobile market had reached 35%;
  • Fixed-line subscriptions have experienced a surprisingly big surge in Sri Lanka, doubling in the last two years.
Mobile subscriber growth and forecast - by country - 2004 - 2007; 2011
Country 2004 2005 2006 2007 2011
Afghanistan 0.6 1.0 1.6 2.0 4.9
Bangladesh 4.0 10.4 22.0 35.0 70.0
Maldives 0.11 0.17 0.28 0.32 0.35
Pakistan 7.9 15.5 48.2 80.0 150.0
Sri Lanka 2.2 3.3 5.4 6.8 13.2
(Source: BuddeComm data, forecasts)

1. Afghanistan
1.1 Key statistics
1.2 Telecommunications market
1.2.1 Overview of Afghanistan’s Telecom market
1.3 Regulatory environment
1.3.1 Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA)
1.4 Fixed network operators in Afghanistan
1.4.1 Afghan Wireless Communications Co (AWCC)
1.4.2 Afghan Telecom
1.4.3 Wasel Telecom
1.4.4 Other licences
1.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
1.5.1 Overview
1.5.2 Infrastructure projects
1.6 Internet market
1.6.1 Overview
1.6.2 Internet cafes
1.6.3 Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
1.6.4 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
1.7 Mobile communications
1.7.1 Overview of Afghanistan’s mobile market
1.7.2 Mobile operators
1.7.3 Mobile licences
1.7.4 Third Generation (3G)
1.7.5 Satellite mobile
1.8 Broadcasting
1.8.1 Overview
1.8.2 National broadcaster
1.8.3 Badakhshan TV
1.8.4 Herat TV
1.8.5 Satellite TV
1.8.6 Afghan TV
1.8.7 Cable TV
1.8.8 Radio Free Afghanistan
1.8.9 Voice of Afghanistan
1.9 Forecasts
1.9.1 Overview
1.9.2 Forecasts - fixed-line market to 2016
1.9.3 Forecasts - Internet services to 2016
1.9.4 Forecasts - mobile market to 2016
2. Bangladesh
2.1 Key statistics
2.2 Telecommunications market
2.2.1 Overview
2.2.2 Floods - 2007
2.3 Regulatory environment
2.3.1 Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC)
2.3.2 Telecommunications Law
2.3.3 The National Telecommunications Policy of 1998 (NTP-98)
2.3.4 Telecommunications Act 2001
2.3.5 The Communications Convergence Bill 2001
2.3.6 Privatisation and liberalisation
2.3.7 Tariffs
2.3.8 Regulatory developments
2.4 Fixed network operators in Bangladesh
2.4.1 Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB)
2.4.2 Bangladesh Rural Telecommunications Authority (BRTA)
2.4.3 Sheba Telecom
2.4.4 WorldTel
2.4.5 Basundhara Communications Network Limited (BCNL)
2.4.6 Dhaka Phone
2.4.7 Other licensees
2.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
2.5.1 National telecom network
2.5.2 International infrastructure
2.6 Internet market
2.6.1 Overview
2.6.2 MediNet
2.6.3 Village Computer and Internet Program
2.6.4 International Internet Gateway (IIG) licence
2.6.5 ISP market
2.6.6 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
2.7 Broadband in Bangladesh
2.8 E-Commerce
2.8.1 Cyber law
2.9 Mobile communications
2.9.1 Overview of Bangladesh’s mobile market
2.9.2 Interconnection issues
2.9.3 Mobile technologies
2.9.4 Major mobile operators
2.9.5 Mobile voice services
2.9.6 Mobile data services
2.10 Broadcasting
2.10.1 Overview
2.10.2 Free to Air (FTA) broadcasting
2.10.3 Cable TV (CATV) and satellite TV
2.11 Forecasts
2.11.1 Forecasts - fixed-line market to 2016
2.11.2 Forecasts - Internet services to 2016
2.11.3 Forecasts - mobile services to 2016
3. Maldives
3.1 Key statistics
3.2 Telecommunications market
3.2.1 Overview of Maldives’ telecom market
3.3 Regulatory environment
3.3.1 Regulatory authority
3.3.2 Master Plan for Telecommunications
3.3.3 Liberalisation
3.3.4 Telecommunications Regulation 2003
3.3.5 Tariffs
3.4 Telecommunications infrastructure
3.4.1 National telecom network
3.4.2 International infrastructure
3.5 Internet market
3.5.1 Overview
3.5.2 Competition
3.5.3 Government Network of the Maldives (GNM)
3.6 Mobile communications
3.6.1 Overview of Maldives’ mobile market
3.6.2 Dhiraagu (DhiMobile)
3.6.3 Wataniya Telecom
3.7 Broadcasting
4. Pakistan
4.1 Key statistics
4.2 Telecommunications market
4.2.1 Overview of Pakistan’s telecom market
4.2.2 Earthquake - October 2005
4.3 Regulatory environment
4.3.1 Overview
4.3.2 Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT)
4.3.3 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)
4.3.4 Telecom sector liberalisation
4.3.5 National numbering scheme
4.3.6 Number portability
4.3.7 Universal Service Obligation (USO)
4.3.8 ‘Grey market’ traffic
4.3.9 Security
4.4 Fixed network operators in Pakistan
4.4.1 Major fixed-line players
4.5 Fixed network voice services
4.5.1 International voice traffic
4.5.2 International prepaid calling card services
4.5.3 Value-added voice services
4.6 Telecommunications infrastructure
4.6.1 National telecom network
4.6.2 International infrastructure
4.6.3 Infrastructure developments
4.7 Internet market
4.7.1 Overview
4.7.2 ISP market
4.8 Broadband market
4.8.1 Cable modem
4.8.2 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
4.8.3 Wireless broadband / WiMAX
4.8.4 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
4.8.5 Internet via satellite
4.9 E-Services
4.9.1 E-Commerce
4.9.2 E-Government
4.10 Mobile communications
4.10.1 Overview of Pakistan’s mobile market
4.10.2 Regulatory issues
4.10.3 Major mobile operators
4.10.4 Mobile voice services
4.10.5 Mobile data services
4.11 Broadcasting
4.11.1 Market overview
4.11.2 Regulatory issues
4.11.3 Free-to-Air (FTA) broadcasting
4.11.4 Pay TV
4.11.5 Cable TV (CATV)
4.11.6 Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
4.12 Forecasts
4.12.1 Overview
4.12.2 Forecasts - fixed-line market to 2017
4.12.3 Forecasts - Internet services to 2017
4.12.4 Forecasts - mobile services to 2017
5. Sri Lanka
5.1 Key statistics
5.2 Telecommunications market
5.2.1 Overview of Sri Lanka’s telecom market
5.2.2 Tsunami disaster
5.3 Regulatory environment
5.3.1 Licences
5.3.2 Deregulation
5.3.3 Privatisation
5.3.4 Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC)
5.3.5 The National Policy on Telecommunications 1998
5.3.6 National Telecommunications Policy - 2001 - 2005
5.3.7 Calling Party Pays (CPP)
5.4 Fixed network operators in Sri Lanka
5.4.1 Overview of operators
5.4.2 SLT (formerly Sri Lanka Telecom)
5.4.3 Suntel
5.4.4 Lanka Bell
5.4.5 Lanka Internet & Tritel services
5.4.6 Dialog Broadband Networks
5.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
5.5.1 National telecom network
5.5.2 International infrastructure
5.5.3 Telecom City Project
5.6 Internet market
5.6.1 Overview
5.6.2 Internet exchange
5.6.3 Public Internet access
5.6.4 Data Centres
5.6.5 ISP market
5.6.6 E-Commerce
5.7 Broadband market
5.7.1 Overview
5.7.2 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
5.7.3 Wireless
5.8 Mobile communications
5.8.1 Overview of Sri Lanka’s mobile market
5.8.2 Major mobile operators
5.8.3 Third Generation (3G) mobile
5.8.4 Satellite mobile
5.9 Broadcasting
5.9.1 Market overview
5.9.2 Regulatory environment
5.9.3 Free-to-Air (FTA) TV
5.9.4 Cable and pay TV
5.10 Forecasts
5.10.1 Forecasts - fixed-line market to 2016
5.10.2 Forecasts - Internet services to 2016
5.10.3 Forecasts - mobile services to 2016
6. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of tables and exhibits
Table 1 - Country statistics Afghanistan - 2008
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2007
Table 3 - Internet statistics - 2007
Table 4 - Mobile statistics - September 2007
Table 5 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 6 - Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity - 1994; 2000 - 2007
Table 7 - Fixed lines installed - 2002 - 2006
Table 8 - Internet users - 2002 - 2007
Table 9 - Internet subscribers - 2002 - 2007
Table 10 - Broadband subscribers - 2004 - 2007
Table 11 - Mobile subscribers and annual change - 2002 - 2007
Table 12 - Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual change - September 2007
Table 13 - Market share by operator - September 2007
Table 14 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2007
Table 15 - Forecast fixed line growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 16 - Forecast fixed line growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 17 - Forecast Internet growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 18 - Forecast Internet growth - - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 19 - Forecast mobile growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 20 - Forecast mobile growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 21 - Country statistics Bangladesh - 2008
Table 22 - Telecom revenue and investment statistics - 2005
Table 23 - Telephone network statistics - 2007
Table 24 - Internet user statistics - 2007
Table 25 - Mobile statistics - June 2007
Table 26 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 27 - Fixed telephone line targets and teledensity - 2010; 2025
Table 28 - Fixed-lines and teledensity - 1995 - 2007
Table 29 - Internet users and number of ISPs - 1996 - 2007
Table 30 - Internet subscribers - 1997 - 2007
Table 31 - International Internet bandwidth - 1998 - 2007
Table 32 - Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual change - June 2007
Table 33 - Mobile subscribers - 1996 - 2007
Table 34 - Market share by operator - June 2007
Table 35 - Pacific Bangladesh (PBTL) subscribers - 1999 - 2007
Table 36 - GrameenPhone subscribers - 1998 - 2007
Table 37 - Banglalink subscribers - 2002 - 2007
Table 38 - Teletalk (BTTB) subscribers - 2005 - 2007
Table 39 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2006
Table 40 - Cable TV subscribers - 2002 - 2006
Table 41 - Forecast fixed line growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 42 - Forecast fixed line growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 43 - Forecast Internet growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 44 - Forecast Internet growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 45 - Forecast mobile growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 46 - Forecast mobile growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 47 - Country statistics Maldives - 2008
Table 48 - Telephone network statistics - October 2007
Table 49 - Internet user statistics - 2007
Table 50 - Broadband statistics - October 2007
Table 51 - Mobile statistics - September 2007
Table 52 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 53 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2007
Table 54 - Fixed-line subscribers by region - October 2007
Table 55 - Internet users - 1996 - 2007
Table 56 - Internet subscribers - 1998 - 2007
Table 57 - Internet subscribers by access type - October 2007
Table 58 - Broadband Internet subscribers - 2004 - 2007
Table 59 - Mobile subscribers - 1998 - 2007
Table 60 - Postpaid and prepaid subscribers - October 2007
Table 61 - Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual change - September 2007
Table 62 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2007
Table 63 - Country statistics Pakistan - 2008
Table 64 - Telecom revenue and investment statistics - 2005
Table 65 - Telephone network statistics - March 2007
Table 66 - Internet user statistics - March 2007
Table 67 - Mobile statistics - June 2007
Table 68 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 69 - ‘Fixed-Line’ licences issued by PTA - 2006
Table 70 - Fixed-Line Subscribers - September 2007
Table 71 - Growth in Public Call Offices (PCOs) - 1999 - 2006
Table 72 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1991 - 2007
Table 73 - WLL subscriber growth - 2005 - 2007
Table 74 - WLL operator subscribers and market share - September 2007
Table 75 - Fixed subscriber growth - wireline and wireless (WLL) - 2005 - 2007
Table 76 - Internet users - 1995 - 2008
Table 77 - Internet subscribers - 1997; 2000 - 2008
Table 78 - Broadband subscribers - 2004 - 2007
Table 79 - DSL subscribers - 2005 - 2007
Table 80 - Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and yearly growth - September 2007
Table 81 - Mobile subscribers - 1995 - 2008
Table 82 - Mobile operator market share - September 2007
Table 83 - Mobile services revenue - 1998 - 2008
Table 84 - Overall ARPU across all mobile operators - 2002; 2004 - 2007
Table 85 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2007
Table 86 - Cable TV licence categories
Table 87 - Forecast fixed line growth - lower market scenario - 2007; 2012; 2017
Table 88 - Forecast fixed line growth - higher market scenario - 2007; 2012; 2017
Table 89 - Forecast Internet subscriber growth - lower market scenario - 2007; 2012; 2017
Table 90 - Forecast Internet subscriber growth - higher market scenario - 2007; 2012; 2017
Table 91 - Forecast mobile subscriber growth - lower market scenario - 2007; 2012; 2017
Table 92 - Forecast mobile subscriber growth - upper market scenario - 2007; 2012; 2017
Table 93 - Country statistics Sri Lanka - 2008
Table 94 - Telephone network statistics - December 2007
Table 95 - Internet user statistics - December 2007
Table 96 - Mobile statistics - 2007
Table 97 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 98 - National network status - December 2007
Table 99 - Number of telecom operator licences by category - 2007
Table 100 - SLT fixed-line subscribers and market share - 1999 - 2007
Table 101 - SLT fixed-line subscribers - Wireline versus WLL - 2005 - 2007
Table 102 - Suntel subscribers - 1999 - 2007
Table 103 - Lanka Bell subscribers - 1999 - 2007
Table 104 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2008
Table 105 - WLL subscribers - 1996 - 2008
Table 106 - Internet users - 1996 - 2008
Table 107 - Internet subscribers - 1994 - 2008
Table 108 - Broadband subscribers - 2002 - 2008
Table 109 - Mobile subscribers - 1995 - 2008
Table 110 - Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual change - September 2007
Table 111 - Mobile operator market share based on subscribers - September 2007
Table 112 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2007
Table 113 - Forecast fixed line growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 114 - Forecast fixed line growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 115 - Forecast Internet growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 116 - Forecast Internet growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 117 - Forecast mobile growth - lower growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Table 118 - Forecast mobile growth - higher growth scenario - 2006; 2011; 2016
Exhibit 1 - Telemedicine in Afghanistan - June 2007
Exhibit 2 - Selected Internet Service Providers licences
Exhibit 3 - Mobile operators in Bangladesh - November 2007
Exhibit 4 - Long Distance International (LDI) licensees - February 2007
Exhibit 5 - Local Loop (LL) licensees - February 2007
Exhibit 6 - PTCL subsidiary companies
Exhibit 7 - Joint ventures and affiliated companies
Exhibit 8 - Telecommunications system operator licensees
Exhibit 9 - External Gateway Operator (EGO) licences

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