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Sierra Leone - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

The Sierra Leone - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband report includes all BuddeComm research data and analysis on this country. Covering trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, internet, broadband, infrastructure and regulation.


Executive summary

Following more than a decade of civil war, Sierra Leone has enjoyed peace, stability and rapid economic growth since 2002. The country’s traditional telecommunications infrastructure has suffered damage and neglect, but the mobile sector has experienced excellent growth with competition between five GSM networks. Some consolidation took place in 2009 when the market’s number two (Africell) acquired the number four (Tigo, operated by Millicom). The other players are Comium, Zain and Datatel.

Also in 2009, state owned fixed-line incumbent Sierratel entered the mobile market with a CDMA2000 1x network which it also uses to provide fixed-wireless access and broadband Internet services following an upgrade to the EV-DO standard, making it the first 3G mobile network in the country.

Two additional mobile licences were issued in 2008 to Cellcom and Libya’s LapGreen which are expected to launch shortly. In addition, two other companies have been holding mobile licences since 2004 but haven’t rolled out services.

With assistance from the Indian government, Sierratel started rehabilitating its fixed-line infrastructure in 2009 and took first steps towards the rollout of a national fibre backbone network. In a controversial regulatory move, the company’s monopoly on the international gateway had been reinstated in 2007. Despite this competitive advantage, the company is unlikely to be able to compete effectively in the various market sectors without a significant capital injection from a foreign strategic investor, so it is expected to be put up for privatisation in the near future.

Rapidly declining average revenue per user is forcing the mobile operators to improve their services, streamline their operations and create new revenue streams, such as Internet access via mobile data services. In this area they are competing with a large number of wireless broadband network operators that have emerged as providers of converged Internet and VoIP telephony services.

Depending entirely on satellites for international connections, without access to international fibre bandwidth, broadband services in Sierra Leone have remained extremely expensive, but this is expected to change when the first international fibre optic submarine cable reaches the country in 2011, possibly already in 2010.

Key highlights:

2010 estimates for mobile, fixed-line and Internet market
Profiles of major players in all market sectors
Sierratel EV-DO launch, fixed-line rehab, national fibre plans
Privatisation of Sierratel expected
Africell acquires Tigo
Dormant mobile licences expected to be revived
International fibre optic submarine cables to arrive in 2010/11
Broadband pricing trends 2009.Zain SL subscribers and market share - 2003 - 2009
YearSubscribers(thousand)Market share
20039584%
200413684%
200517855%
200624346%
200734943%
200846125%
2009 (Jun)55125%
(Source: BuddeComm based on company and industry data)
This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Sierra Leone’s telecommunications market. Subjects covered include:

Key statistics
Market and industry overviews
Regulatory environment and structural reform
Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband)
Infrastructure development
Mobile voice and data markets
Average Revenue per User (ARPU)
Internet and broadband development and pricing
Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile).For those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecommunications sector in Sierra Leone, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:

Government policies affecting the telecoms industry
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues
The impact of the global economic crisis
Telecoms operators - privatisation, acquisitions, new licences
Consolidation in the mobile sector
Internet and broadband development and growth
Broadband and mobile data services and pricing trends
Mobile Average Revenue per User (ARPU).

1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
2.1 Country overview
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Overview of Sierra Leone’s telecom market
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Background
4.2 West African common regulatory framework 2005
4.3 Regulatory authority
4.3.1 National Telecommunications Commission (NTC, NATCOM)
4.4 Future regulatory direction
4.5 Telecom sector liberalisation
5. Fixed network operators in Sierra Leone
5.1 Sierratel
5.1.1 Network infrastructure
5.1.2 Wireless Local Loop (WLL), CDMA2000 1x EV-DO
5.1.3 Privatisation
5.2 Other operators
5.3 Fixed-line statistics
6. International infrastructure
6.1 New international submarine fibre optic cables
6.2 International gateways, grey market
7. Internet market
7.1 Overview
7.1.1 Internet statistics
8. Broadband market
8.1 Overview
8.2 VoIP Internet telephony
8.3 ISPs and converged service providers
8.3.1 Access Point Africa
8.3.2 Afcom
8.3.3 AITH
8.3.4 Datatel
8.3.5 FGC
8.3.6 icom.net (Comium)
8.3.7 IPTEL/Sierra-Com
8.3.8 LimeLine
8.3.9 MultiNet
8.3.10 Sierratel
9. Mobile communications
9.1 Overview of Sierra Leone’s mobile market
9.1.1 Mobile licensing
9.1.2 Mobile statistics
9.2 Major mobile operators
9.2.1 Zain (formerly Celtel)
9.2.2 Comium
9.2.3 Africell (Lintel)
9.2.4 Tigo (now part of Africell)
9.2.5 Datatel
9.2.6 Sierratel
9.2.7 Cellcom
9.3 Mobile data services
9.4 Mobile content and applications
9.4.1 M-payment
9.5 Satellite mobile
10. Related reports
List of Tables and Exhibites
Table 1 - Country statistics Sierra Leone - 2010
Table 2 - Fixed-line network statistics - 2009
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2009
Table 4 - Mobile statistics - 2009
Table 5 - National telecommunications authority
Table 6 - Fixed and fixed-wireless lines in service and teledensity - 1999 - 2010
Table 7 - Internet users and penetration rate - 1999 - 2010
Table 8 - icom.net wireless Internet pricing - January 2010
Table 9 - GSM licences issued in Sierra Leone - 1998 - 2009
Table 10 - Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration rate - 2000 - 2010
Table 11 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - March 2009
Table 12 - Zain SL subscribers and market share - 2003 - 2009
Table 13 - Celtel/Zain SL ARPU - 2002 - 2009
Table 14 - Zain mobile Internet pricing by data download - January 2010
Exhibit 1 - Map of Sierra Leone
Exhibit 2 - West African common regulatory framework 2005
Exhibit 3 - International submarine fibre optic cables in West Africa - 2009 - 2011

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