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Sudan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

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

North and South Sudan, two very different markets

This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Sudan’s telecommunications market.

Subjects covered include:

Key statistics;
Market and industry overviews;
The impact of the global economic crisis;
Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
Infrastructure development, including fibre;
Mobile voice and data markets, including 3G;
Internet and broadband development and growth;
Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile);
Mobile data services, including 3G broadband;
Average Revenue per User (ARPU).

Following a referendum, oil-rich South Sudan became the world’s youngest independent state in mid-2011. Having been beyond the central government’s control and deprived of development, it is establishing its own independent telecommunications regime, creating new opportunities for service providers and equipment suppliers.

Three quarters of the population are in the North where mobile market penetration is much higher, but the average revenue per user (APRU) is higher in the South. The North has a large, relatively well-equipped telecommunications system by regional standards, including a national fibre optic backbone and international fibre connections.

The national telco, Sudatel has been privatised more than a decade ago, with major shares and management control now held by Etisalat of the UAE and Qatar Telecom. It is also listed on several regional stock exchanges. The company presided over the world’s fastest growing fixed-line market until it started substituting traditional copper lines with CDMA2000 fixed-wireless access in 2005.

Competition in the fixed-line market comes from Canartel which, interestingly, is also majority-owned by Etisalat. It too opted for CDMA2000 technology to cost effectively roll out fixed services and, like Sudatel, is offering wireless broadband services through this network following an upgrade to the EV-DO standard. The company is lobbying for a licence to offer mobile services as well but is meeting resistance from the other operators.

Sudatel exited the mobile market when it sold its GSM network to Celtel (now Zain) at a record price in 2006, following the arrival of competition the year before from Bashair Telecom. Sudatel then re-entered the mobile market independently with its CDMA network under the brand name Sudani. At the end of 2009 the company launched a GSM-based network overlay, keeping up with Zain and MTN in offering third generation services including HSDPA mobile broadband. Broadband pricing is still high and varies widely between the different operators.

Market highlights:

Higher telecom taxes in 2012;
Telecom networks to be separated between the two new states;
South Sudan to connect to international fibre bandwidth via Kenya;
Intensified mobile broadband competition;
Wide variation of broadband pricing and mobile ARPU.

Estimated market penetration rates in Sudan’s telecoms sector – end 2012
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 78%
Fixed | 1%
Internet | 24%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Companies covered in this report:


Canar Telecom (Canartel)
Network of the World (NOW, Vivacell)
Gemtel (G Telecom, LapGreen)

1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Market analysis 2012
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Background
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.2.1 National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC)
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Sudan
4.4 Universal service fund
5. Fixed network operators in Sudan
5.1 Fixed-line statistics
5.2 Sudatel
5.2.1 Privatisation
5.2.2 Fixed-line infrastructure
5.2.3 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
5.2.4 Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT)
5.2.5 National fibre backbone
5.2.6 International expansion
5.3 Canartel (Canar Telecom)
6. International infrastructure
6.1 Overview
6.2 Submarine fibre
6.3 Terrestrial fibre
6.3.1 The Central African Backbone (CAB)
7. Internet market
7.1 Overview
7.1.1 Internet statistics
7.2 ISP market
7.2.1 Sudanet
7.2.2 ZinaNet
7.2.3 Mobinet
7.3 Sudan Internet Society (SiS)
8. Broadband market
8.1 ADSL
8.2 EV-DO
8.3 WiMAX
8.4 Broadband via satellite
9. Convergence
9.1 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
10. Mobile communications
10.1 Overview of Sudan’s mobile market
10.2 Mobile statistics
10.3 Major mobile operators
10.3.1 Zain Sudan
10.3.2 MTN Sudan (Bashair Telecom, Investcom/Areeba)
10.3.3 Sudani (Sudatel)
10.4 Mobile data services
10.4.1 SMS and MMS
10.4.2 GPRS and EDGE
10.5 Third generation (3G)
10.6 Mobile content and applications
10.6.1 Mobile money transfer
10.7 Satellite mobile
11. South Sudan
11.1 Overview
11.2 The five national operators
11.3 Local operators
11.3.1 Network of the World (NOW), Vivacell
11.3.2 Gemtel (G Telecom)
11.4 International gateway
11.5 Mobile banking
12. Related reports
List of Tabels, Charts and Exhibits
Table 1 – Country statistics Sudan – 2012
Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2012
Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2012
Table 4 – Internet user statistics – 2012
Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2012
Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
Table 7 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1994 - 2012
Table 8 – Canar Home pricing – 2008 - 2012
Table 9 – Internet users and penetration rate – 1997 - 2012
Table 10 – Sudani mDSL pricing – 2012 vs. 2010
Table 11 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1996 - 2012
Table 12 – Zain Sudan subscribers and ARPU – 2003 - 2012
Table 13 – MTN Sudan subscribers and ARPU – 2006 - 2012
Table 14 – Sudani 3G mobile broadband pricing – July 2012
Chart 1 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 - 2012
Exhibit 1 – Maps of Sudan and South Sudan

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