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Swaziland regulator launching sweeping changes to the mobile market
Swaziland was 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 has since embarked on radical changes to the telecom sector. SPTC temporarily entered the mobile market independently using its CDMA network but was challenged about this by MTN in the courts. Obliged to stop offering its ONE' mobile service, the operator was provided with a licence to resume mobile services in early 2016. MTN Swaziland in early 2016 was also awarded spectrum in the 1800MHz band to provide LTE services.
Mobile market penetration in Swaziland is well above the average for the region, though subscriber growth has slowed in recent years. Real competition should provide a welcome boost 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. Although DSL services were introduced in 2008, complemented by 3G mobile broadband services in 2011, development of the sector has been hampered by the limited fixed-line infrastructure and a lack of competition in the access and backbone network.
Swaziland is landlocked, and so the country depends on neighbouring countries for international fibre bandwidth. This meant that access pricing were high for many years, though prices have fallen more recently in line with greater bandwidth availability resulting from several new submarine fibre optic cable systems that have reached the region in recent years.
MTN launches LTE services;
Government proposes legislation to overhaul the telecoms sector;
SPTC licensed to provide mobile services;
Mobile market growth slows;
New international fibre connections increase internet bandwidth;
The Mbabane Internet Exchange Point (MB-IX) is launched, as part of a drive to route 80% of local traffic through local IXPs.
Market penetration rates in Swaziland's telecoms sector 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 3.2%
Internet users | 27.8%
Mobile SIM (population) | 75.2%
Companies mentioned in this report:
Swaziland Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), Swazi MTN, Africa Online, Posix, Real Image, Viettel.
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