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Uganda - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

Uganda - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

Consolidation in overcrowded mobile sector, Internet growing at more than 200% per year

Uganda is one of the fastest and most consistently growing economies in Africa. The introduction of mobile telephony has revolutionised the country’s telecommunications industry, but with eight networks the market is now considered overcrowded. This had led to consolidation among the operators, culminating in the takeover of Warid Telecom by Bharti Airtel in 2013. Other players include regional heavyweights MTN from South Africa and France Telecom/Orange.

The intensified competition led to a price war which has accelerated subscriber growth but also reduced the average revenue per user (ARPU) and quality of service (QoS). The network operators started raising their tariffs again and are trying to find ways of generating additional revenue streams. 3G and 4G mobile broadband services as well as mobile money transfer and m-banking services are at the forefront of this development in a country where less than 20% of the population currently has internet access or holds a traditional bank account.

Fixed-line and DSL penetration is low but saw a renaissance recently on the back of wireless local loop (WLL) rollouts, prepaid services and an increasing demand for broadband access. Fixed GSM and WiMAX in combination with VoIP now make up more than half of the fixed telephony market.

Being landlocked, the country depended entirely on satellites for its international connectivity until 2009 when several international submarine fibre optic cables landed on the African east coast. Uganda is now connected via a national fibre backbone extending to its borders with neighbouring coastal countries. By 2013, prices for international bandwidth had fallen to a fraction of their original cost, but retail pricing of broadband services is still relatively expensive, especially when considering purchasing power parity. However, wireless and mobile technologies such as WiMAX, EV-DO, HSPA and LTE are now putting the internet within reach of a much wider part of the population than traditional fixed-line DSL services have in the past. These improvements in infrastructure are revolutionising the market and enabling converged voice, data and digital media services.

At around 50%, total teledensity is still below the African average, and all market segments are experiencing strong growth. A simplified and converged licensing regime has significantly reduced barriers to market entry and increased competition. With annual GDP growth forecast to rise from currently 4% to 7% in 2015 and the following years, growth prospects for Uganda’s telecoms sector are excellent.

Market highlights:

Consolidation in the overcrowded mobile sector;
Opportunities for MVNOs and tower outsourcing companies;
Three 4G (LTE) networks launched;
Internet subscriptions growing at more than 200% per year;
More than 95% of internet connections are mobile;
3G mobile broadband pricing varies widely, consolidation expected;
New legislation and regulations;
WiMAX/VoIP provides more than 10% of fixed telephone connections;
Fibre optic network rollouts continue;
New fibre links to international submarine cables.
Estimated market penetration rates in Uganda’s telecoms sector – end-2013
Market | Penetration rate
Mobile | 52%
Fixed | 1%
Internet | 16%
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year


  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • KEY STATISTICS
    • Table Country statistics - 2013
    • Table Fixed-line network statistics - 2013
    • Table Internet provider statistics - 2013
    • Table Internet statistics - 2013
    • Table Mobile statistics - 2013
    • Table National telecommunications authority
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET
    • OVERVIEW OF UGANDA'S TELECOM MARKET
  • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
    • BACKGROUND
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITIES
      • Uganda Communications Commission
      • National Information Technology Authority
    • TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY 1996
    • UGANDA COMMUNICATIONS ACT 1997
    • UGANDA COMMUNICATIONS ACT 2013
    • TELECOM SECTOR LIBERALISATION IN UGANDA
      • New competition framework 2005
      • National ICT Policy
      • Licensing prior to 2007
      • New licensing regime
      • Additional mobile networks
    • INTERCONNECTION
    • NUMBER PORTABILITY
    • UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND (USF)
      • RCDF projects
    • INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS BILL
      • Registration of subscriber data
    • CYBER CRIME LEGISLATION
    • CONSUMER RIGHTS
    • TAXES
    • COUNTERFEIT PHONES
  • FIXED NETWORK MARKET
    • FIXED-LINE STATISTICS
      • Table Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Uganda - 1995 - 2014
    • FIXED NETWORK OPERATORS IN UGANDA
      • Uganda Telecom
      • MTN Uganda
  • TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
    • NATIONAL FIBRE BACKBONE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Table Fibre optic cable assets in Uganda by operator - 2011
      • MTN and UTL
      • National Backbone Infrastructure (NBI)
      • UMEME
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Submarine fibre
      • Terrestrial fibre
      • Satellite, VSAT
  • INTERNET MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
      • Internet statistics
        • Table Internet users and penetration rate in Uganda - 1995 - 2014
        • Table Fixed vs. mobile internet subscriptions in Uganda - 2007 - 2012
    • PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS LOCATIONS
    • PERSONAL COMPUTER MARKET
    • DIAL-UP
    • INTERNATIONAL BANDWIDTH
      • Table Uganda's international internet bandwidth - 1999 - 2012
    • UGANDA'S ISP MARKET
      • Overview, licensing
      • Selected ISPs
      • Uganda Internet Exchange Point (UiXP)
  • BROADBAND MARKET
    • OVERVIEW
    • ADSL
      • Table Uganda Telecom ADSL and ISDN pricing - 2010 - 2013
    • WIMAX, LTE
      • Table Uganda Telecom WiMAX pricing - 2012, 2013
      • Table MTN Uganda ADSL, WiMAX and Metro Ethernet pricing - 2012
      • Table Smile Telecom Uganda WiMAX and LTE pricing - 2012
      • Table Foris Telecom Uganda prepaid WiMAX pricing - 2012
    • WIFI
      • Table Uganda Telecom WiFi hotspot pricing - 2009 - 2013
    • EV-DO
    • MOBILE BROADBAND
    • CONVERGENCE
      • VoIP telephony
      • Next generation Networks (NGN)
      • Broadband over powerlines (BPL)
      • Smart grids
    • E-SERVICES
      • E-commerce
      • E-banking
      • E-government
  • DIGITAL MEDIA
    • BROADCASTING IN UGANDA
    • BROADBAND TV (IPTV)
    • DIGITAL TERRESTRIAL TV (DTT)
  • MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS
    • OVERVIEW OF UGANDA'S MOBILE MARKET
      • Mobile statistics
        • Table Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Uganda - 1996 - 2013
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Licensing
      • Taxes
      • Tariffs
      • Infrastructure sharing
      • SIM card registration
      • Quality of service (QoS)
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • MTN Uganda
        • Table MTN Uganda subscribers - 2000 - 2013
        • Table MTN Uganda ARPU - 2002 - 2013
      • Bharti Airtel Uganda (formerly Zain, Celtel)
        • Table Zain Uganda subscribers - 2002 - 2012
        • Table Zain Uganda ARPU - 2006 - 2009
      • Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL)
      • Warid Telecom
      • Orange Uganda (HiTS Telecom)
        • Table Orange Uganda mobile subscribers - 2009 - 2013
      • i-Tel
      • Smile Communications
      • Sure Telecom
    • MOBILE VIRTUAL NETWORK OPERATORS (MVNO)
      • K2 Telecom
    • TARIFFS AND PRICE WAR
      • Per-second billing
      • Free calls
      • Flat rates
      • MTN Zone
      • Free international roaming
    • MOBILE TRAFFIC
    • MOBILE DATA SERVICES
      • SMS
      • MMS
      • WAP, GPRS and EDGE
        • Table Warid Telecom (Uganda) GPRS/EDGE pricing - 2012
        • Table Uganda Telecom GPRS/EDGE pricing - 2012
      • BlackBerry
        • Table MTN Uganda Blackberry pricing - 2012
    • 3G AND 4G MOBILE BROADBAND
      • Mobile broadband statistics
        • Table Active mobile broadband penetration in Uganda - 2009 - 2012
      • 3G, HSPA
        • Table Uganda Telecom 3G mobile broadband pricing - 2012
        • Table Orange Uganda 3G/HSDPA mobile broadband pricing - 2012
        • Table MTN Uganda 3G/HSDPA mobile broadband pricing - 2012
        • Table Airtel Uganda HSPA+ pricing - 2012
        • Table Warid Telecom (Uganda) unlimited HSPA+ pricing - 2012
      • LTE (4G)
    • MOBILE MONEY TRANSFER, M-BANKING
      • Traditional bank charges and international remittances
      • Regulation
      • MTN Mobile Money
      • Airtel Money (ZAP)
      • M-Sente (UTL)
      • Other services
    • MOBILE TV
  • FORECASTS
    • FORECASTS - MOBILE MARKET 2014; 2017
      • Table Forecast mobile subscribers in Uganda - 2014; 2017
    • NOTES ON SCENARIO FORECASTS

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