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Swaziland - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband


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Swaziland - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Second mobile licence to be offered under new regulator

This annual report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Swaziland'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 environment;
Telecoms operators privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
Major players (fixed, mobile and broadband);
Infrastructure development;
Mobile voice and data markets;
Average Revenue per User (ARPU);
Internet and broadband development, including 3G mobile;
Mobile money services;
Convergence (voice/data, fixed/wireless/mobile).

Swaziland is one of the last countries in the world to abolish an almost complete monopoly in all sectors of its telecommunications market: Until 2011 the state-owned posts and telecommunications operator SPTC also acted as the industry regulator and had a stake in the country's sole mobile network, in an uneasy partnership with South Africa's MTN. A new independent regulatory authority was established in late 2013 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged the government to issue a second mobile licence. SPTC had temporarily entered the mobile market independently using its CDMA network but was challenged about this by MTN in the courts.

Despite the lack of competition, mobile market penetration in Swaziland has been well above the African average, but subscriber growth has slowed in recent years. The average revenue per user (APRU) is one of the highest in Africa. Real competition is now required to take the market to the next level.

The Internet sector has been open to competition with four licensed Internet service providers (ISPs), but prices have remained high and market penetration relatively low. ADSL was introduced in 2008 and 3G mobile broadband services in 2011, but development of the sector has been hampered by the limited fixed-line infrastructure and a lack of competition in the access and backbone network. LTE fourth generation (4G) mobile services are expected to be introduced in 2014.

Swaziland has a relatively well-developed fibre optic backbone network. However, being landlocked, the country depends on neighbouring countries for international fibre bandwidth which has led to high prices. Improvements have resulted from several new submarine fibre optic cable systems that have reached the region in recent years.

Market highlights:

New independent regulatory authority;
Second mobile licence expected;
Mobile market growth slows under monopoly;
One of the highest ARPU levels in Africa;
Uncertainty over national backbone and international gateway regulations;
New international fibre connections increase internet bandwidth;
LTE launch expected in 2014.

Estimated market penetration rates in Swaziland's telecoms sector end-2014
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 86%
Fixed | 5%
Internet | 27%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

Companies covered in this report:

Swaziland Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), Swazi MTN, Africa Online, Posix, Real Image, Viettel.


1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
2.1 Country overview
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Overview of Swaziland's telecom market
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Overview
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
5. Fixed network operator in Swaziland
5.1 SPTC
5.1.1 Services
5.1.2 Fixed network infrastructure
5.1.3 Fixed-line statistics
5.1.4 Wireless local loop (WLL), CDMA2000 and WiMAX
5.1.5 Next Generation Network (NGN)
5.1.6 National fibre backbone
5.1.7 Fibre to the Cabinet (FttC)
5.1.8 International infrastructure
5.1.9 Financial results
6. Internet market
6.1 Overview
6.1.1 Internet statistics
6.2 Public Internet access locations
6.3 Computer Education Trust (CET)
6.4 E-banking
6.5 Swaziland's ISP market
6.5.1 Africa Online
6.5.2 Posix
6.5.3 Real Image Internet
6.5.4 Swazi.net
6.6 Swaziland Internet Exchange Point
7. Broadband market
7.1 Overview
7.2 ADSL
7.3 EV-DO
8. Mobile communications
8.1 Overview of Swaziland's mobile market
8.1.1 Mobile statistics
8.2 Swazi MTN
8.2.1 Shareholders
8.2.2 Licence conditions
8.2.3 Network rollout and coverage
8.2.4 Services and tariffs
8.2.5 Distribution channels
8.2.6 ARPU analysis
8.2.7 Second mobile licence
8.2.8 SPTC mobile services
8.3 Third generation (3G)
8.4 LTE (4G)
8.5 Mobile banking
9. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Swaziland 2014
Table 2 Fixed-line network statistics 2014
Table 3 Internet provider statistics 2014
Table 4 Internet user statistics 2014
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2014
Table 6 Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Swaziland 1999 - 2014
Table 7 Fixed-wireless subscribers in Swaziland 2006; 2011 - 2012
Table 8 SPTC financial results 2004 - 2012
Table 9 Internet users and penetration rate in Swaziland 2000 - 2014
Table 10 International internet bandwidth in Swaziland 2009 - 2013
Table 11 Real Image ADSL pricing 2010 (discontinued)
Table 12 SPTC ADSL pricing 2012 - 2014
Table 13 SPTC EV-DO wireless broadband subscribers 2010 - 2012
Table 14 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Swaziland 1999 - 2014
Table 15 Swazi MTN messaging prices 2009; 2010; 2012; 2014
Table 16 Swazi MTN ARPU 2001 - 2013
Table 17 Swazi MTN 3G mobile broadband pricing 2014
Chart 1 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2002 - 2014
Exhibit 1 Map of Swaziland
Exhibit 2 International submarine fibre optic cables in southern Africa
Exhibit 3 Swazi MTN licence conditions

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