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Laos - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses

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Laos - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses

Still no progress on setting up telecom regulator in Laos

The telecom sector in Laos still has numerous issues to address. The rate of regulatory reform continues to be well behind wider industry development, even allowing for the country being a developing economy. The delays in reform have the potential to derail the good progress already made if the process is not speeded up.

The accession of Laos to the WTO was finalised in early 2013. As a consequence Laos was required to implement its post-WTO accession agenda. Of critical importance for the country's telecom sector, the WTO Reference Paper on telecommunications among other things called for the setting up an independent telecom regulator. Indeed, this was required to be put in place two years after accession (ie by February 2015). By February 2016 this had not been achieved. It was understood that work was proceeding on the matter, but no formal steps had been taken.

The country's mobile sector has been going through a difficult period. Following the Beeline saga back in 2011/2012, the fallout was still being felt into 2016. A cloud of uncertainty seems to be hanging over the whole market. Subscriber growth weakened after the market had gone backwards. The cellcos are now operating in an environment where the regulator is keeping a tight hold on pricing and open competition is in effect discouraged. A further problem emerging for the mobile operators is that network performance is deteriorating across the board. This in turn highlighted two important issues there has been insufficient investment by the operators in the areas of network maintenance and upgrades, and, secondly, there are obvious deficiencies in the regulatory environment in how the authorities apply and manage network performance standards. It is understood that the MPT has started to address the latter problem.

Internet services in Laos continue to lag. This remains a major concern in terms of the overall social and economic development of the country. The good news is that since 2011/2012 there has been a boom in mobile broadband internet services (although it has been hard to get reliable statistics on this part of the market). The expansion of internet and especially broadband into the provinces and the rural areas is high on the government's list of development priorities.

On a positive note, the Lao economy continues to perform well and the IMF has forecast further strong growth, at least in the short term. In the last five or six years there certainly has been a noticeable shift in the economic and social outlook for Laos. After a number of decades of having to struggle with a poorly performing economy and a commercial environment that was in desperate need of reform, there is now positive news being reported on many fronts for this nation of almost seven million people. Most importantly, a significant number of hydro-electric power projects and mining ventures have become reality, with even more possible projects in the pipeline. Laos is finally moving forward in what might be described as a confident fashion.

Key developments:

The mobile market in Laos continues to feel the uncertainty that flowed from the so-called Beeline crisis;

The growth in mobile subscribers initially stalled as the regulator imposed a strict policy on pricing;

There has been some recovery in mobile subscriber growth with penetration easing up to 73% coming into 2016;

A further setback for the mobile sector has been a general decline in network performance, a problem being felt across all the mobile networks;

Despite the difficulties in the mobile sector, mobile broadband continues to expand at a rapid rate;

Unitel launched a 4G service in 2015, thereby joining Lao Telecom into the 4G segment;

The government had introduced new internet laws/decrees which were regarded as restrictive and were attracting some criticism internationally;

Laos launches its first satellite, LaoSat-1, in November 2015.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Lao Telecom (LTC), Thaicom, ETL, Unitel, Lao Asia Telecom, Star Telecom, Viettel, Beeline, Tango, Tigo, Millicom, Vimpelcom, Planet Online, Sky Telecom, China-APMT.

1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Country overview
4. Economy
4.1 WTO accession
5. Telecommunications market
5.1 Market Overview and Analysis
5.2 Historical overview
6. Regulatory environment
6.1 Overview
6.2 Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT)
6.3 Telecommunications Law No. 2 (2012)
6.4 Earlier legislation
6.4.1 Telecommunications Act 2001
6.4.2 National Authority for Post and Telecommunications (NAPT)
6.5 Regulatory developments
6.6 Regulatory issues
6.6.1 Internet laws and decrees
6.6.2 Single gateway policy
7. Fixed network operators
7.1 Overview
7.2 Lao Telecom
7.2.1 Overview
7.2.2 Corporate
7.2.3 Fixed-line operations
7.3 ETL
7.3.1 Overview
7.3.2 Fixed-line operations
8. Telecommunications infrastructure
8.1 Overview of the national telecom network
8.2 Fibre Networks
8.3 International infrastructure
8.3.1 Satellite
8.3.2 Terrestrial cable links
8.3.3 LaoSat-1 project
9. Fixed-line broadband market
9.1 Introduction and statistical overview
9.1.1 Top level domain name
9.2 Market analysis
9.3 Broadband statistics
9.4 Forecasts Broadband subscribers 2016; 2018; 2021
9.4.1 Notes on scenario forecasts
9.5 Fixed-line broadband technologies
9.5.1 DSL
9.5.2 WiMAX
9.5.3 Optical fibre
9.5.4 Satellite
10. Digital economy
10.1 E-government
10.2 E-health
11. Social media
12. Mobile market
12.1 Market Overview and Analysis
12.2 Mobile statistics
12.3 Mobile broadband
12.4 Forecasts mobile market - 2016; 2018; 2021
13. Mobile infrastructure
13.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile services
13.2 Long Term Evolution (LTE) / 4G services
14. Major mobile operators
14.1 Operators
14.2 ETL
14.3 Beeline
14.3.1 Mobile operations
14.4 Unitel
14.5 Sky Telecom
15. Digital Media
15.1 Introduction
15.2 Digital TV
15.3 Communications: VoIP, messaging, conferencing
15.3.1 VoIP
16. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Laos 2016
Table 2 Telephone network statistics 2016
Table 3 Broadband and Internet user statistics 2016
Table 4 Mobile statistics 2016
Table 5 National telecommunications authority
Table 6 Laos' GDP real growth rate 2006 - 2017
Table 7 Historical - Fixed-line subscribers 1995 - 2005
Table 8 Fixed-line subscribers 2006 - 2016
Table 9 WLL (fixed wireless) subscribers 2004 - 2015
Table 10 Fibre network by installed route length 2010 2015
Table 11 Fibre network by operator 2012; 2014
Table 12 Internet users 1998 - 2015
Table 13 Households with internet connection 2005 - 2016
Table 14 Internet bandwidth capacity 2002 - 2016
Table 15 Fixed broadband subscribers 2003 - 2016
Table 16 Total broadband subscribers 2010 2015
Table 17 DSL subscribers 2007 - 2015
Table 18 Forecast fixed broadband subscribers and penetration 2016; 2018; 2021
Table 19 Internet bandwidth per user 2005 - 2015
Table 20 Selected Facebook data July 2015
Table 21 Historical - mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration 1995 - 2005
Table 22 Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration 2006 - 2016
Table 23 Mobile broadband subscribers 2010 - 2016
Table 24 Forecast mobile subscribers and penetration 2016; 2018; 2021
Table 25 Mobile operators and Systems
Table 26 Mobile subscribers and market share by operator 2016
Table 27 ETL's mobile subscribers 2003 - 2016
Table 28 Beeline's mobile subscribers 2005 - 2016
Table 29 Beeline's mobile ARPU 2011 - 2016
Table 30 Unitel's mobile subscribers 2005 - 2016
Table 31 Key broadcasting statistics
Chart 1 Fixed-line subscribers 2006 2016
Chart 2 Fixed broadband subscribers 2007 - 2016
Chart 3 - Mobile subscribers and annual change - 2006 - 2016

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