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Maldives - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Maldives - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Competition sees mobile penetration pass 200% in Maldives

The Maldives has a small population of slightly more than 350,000. By mid-2015 its total mobile subscriber base had passed 700,000 and mobile penetration had exceeded 200%. Most importantly, on the back of this mobile network it had a rapidly expanding mobile broadband capability, with 3G, 3G+ and, more recently, 4G. These mobile options were additional to the small but important range of fixed broadband services, mainly DSL-based. At the same time, the number of fixed telephone lines (including payphones) was around 22,500.

Providing good communications for the Maldives has for a long time been paramount, with its relatively small population living on many islands across the archipelago (over 1,000 islands of which around 200 are inhabited). The nation can claim to have met this challenge with considerable success. It now 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; this was further enhanced by the provision of a submarine cable connection to Sri Lanka back in 2005; at the same time the opportunity has been taken to provide undersea links between the main atolls, thereby substantially strengthening the domestic connectivity. And a second submarine cable linked the archipelago to India in 2006.

Efficient telecommunications services have been established to all inhabited islands by the national telco, Dhiraagu. Despite having been criticised in the early stages of development for its high tariff structure whilst operating as a monopoly provider, the company has played an undeniably important role in building networks and delivering telephone services across the archipelago. Dhiraagu's shareholding was opened to public investment in late 2011 when an IPO saw the government sell off some of its stake. In a somewhat surprising move, Bahrain's Batelco subsequently acquired the whole of C&W Communications' 52% stake in Dhiraagu.

A second mobile licence was issued in due course, the new operator Wataniya Telecom becoming operational in 2006. Wataniya was acquired and rebranded Ooredoo in 2013.

Despite a slow start to the opening up of the market, the introduction of a level of competition quickly saw a boom in the country's telecom sector, especially the mobile segment. By 2015 Ooredoo had 300,000 mobile subscribers or around 45% of the total market. At the same time the incumbent Dhiraagu was also continuing to vigorously develop its mobile subscriber base, improving the quality and extending its product range. The market's attention was shifting to new generation offerings. Both operators had launched 3G and higher services and the take up rate for these new service offerings was particularly strong. There were also moves into 4G/LTE. Not surprisingly, the growth of mobile broadband services has been running hot.

Key developments:

second mobile operator Wataniya Telecom was acquired by Ooredoo and rebranded accordingly;
Ooredoo quickly claimed around a third of the mobile market following its launch in 2006:
by 2015 Ooredoo had 45% of the total subscriber base;
mobile penetration in the Maldives has passed the 200% milestone;
strong growth was continuing in 3G and more advanced mobile services;
both operators had launched 4G/LTE services by 2015;
CAM was moving to introduce Mobile Number Portability (MNP) by October 2015;
CAM had awarded the country's third ISP licence to mobile operator Ooredoo;
there was no growth in the number of fixed line subscribers;
after a major push into broadband internet, the Maldives has established a solid base of fixed broadband services with DSL the dominant platform;
mobile broadband services was booming with 43% subscriber growth in 12 months to June 2015;
the government of the Maldives was moving on plans to launch its own satellite;

Companies mentioned in this report

Dhiraagu, Wataniya, Ooredoo, Focus Infocom, Thuraya, Cable & Wireless.


1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Country overview
3.1 Background
3.2 Economy
4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Overview of Maldives' telecom market
5. Regulatory environment
5.1 Regulatory authority
5.2 Telecommunications plans
5.3 Liberalisation
5.4 Telecommunications Regulation 2003
5.5 Tariffs - background
5.6 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.1.1 Domestic satellite service
6.2 International infrastructure
6.2.1 Satellite networks
6.2.2 Submarine cable networks
7. Internet market
7.1 Background
7.2 Third ISP licence
7.3 Internet statistics
7.4 Competition in the internet market
7.5 Government Network of the Maldives (GNM)
8. Broadband market
8.1 Overview
8.2 Broadband statistics
8.3 Broadband technologies
8.3.1 DSL
8.3.2 Cable modem
8.3.3 Fibre to the Home (FttH)
8.3.4 Fixed wireless broadband
8.3.5 Satellite internet
8.3.6 Mobile broadband
9. Mobile communications
9.1 Overview of Maldives' mobile market
9.2 Mobile statistics
9.3 Mobile technologies
9.3.1 3G
9.3.2 4G/LTE
9.4 Dhiraagu (DhiMobile)
9.4.1 Overview
9.4.2 Background
9.4.3 Operations
9.4.4 Dhiraagu's Initial Public Offering (IPO)
9.5 Ooredoo (formerly Wataniya Telecom)
9.5.1 Background
9.5.2 Operations
10. Broadcasting market
10.1 Overview
11. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Maldives 2015
Table 2 Telephone network statistics June 2015
Table 3 Internet user statistics 2014
Table 4 Broadband statistics June 2015
Table 5 Mobile statistics June 2015
Table 6 National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 Maldives' GDP real growth rate 2006 - 2017
Table 8 Historical - Fixed lines in service and teledensity 1995 - 2005
Table 9 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2006 - 2015
Table 10 Fixed-line subscribers by region June 2015
Table 11 Historical - Internet users 1996 - 2005
Table 12 Internet users 2006 - 2015
Table 13 Fixed internet subscribers 1998 - 2015
Table 14 Estimated fixed internet subscribers by access type 2014
Table 15 International internet bandwidth 1999 - 2015
Table 16 Fixed broadband subscribers 2002 - 2014
Table 17 Estimated fixed broadband subscribers by access type 2014
Table 18 Mobile broadband subscribers 2010 - 2015
Table 19 FttH subscribers 2009 - 2014
Table 20 DSL subscribers 2002 - 2014
Table 21 Cable modem subscribers 2005 - 2014
Table 22 Fibre to the Home (FttH) subscribers 2009 - 2014
Table 23 Historical - Mobile subscribers 1998 - 2005
Table 24 Mobile subscribers 2006 - 2015
Table 25 Postpaid and prepaid mobile subscribers and market share June 2015
Table 26 Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change 2014
Table 27 Mobile operators, subscriber and market share 2012
Table 28 Mobile operators, subscriber and market share 2013
Table 29 Mobile operators, subscriber and market share 2014
Table 30 Dhiraagu mobile subscribers 1998 - 2015
Table 31 Ooredoo (formerly Wataniya) mobile subscribers 2006 - 2015
Table 32 Key broadcasting statistics - 2014
Chart 1 - Maldives GDP real growth rate - 2006 2017
Chart 2 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 2006 2015
Chart 3 - Internet users - 2006 2015
Chart 4 - Estimated fixed internet subscribers by access type 2014
Chart 5 - Mobile subscribers - 2006 - 2015

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