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Bhutan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

  • September 2016
  • -
  • Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd
  • -
  • 31 pages

Bhutan's fixed broadband market gains momentum
The mobile market in Bhutan has grown moderately over the past few years. The mobile subscriber growth rate was a very strong 14% 2014, however it was at a slower 5% and 2% in 2015 and 2016 respectively as the market begins to mature. Penetration reached 88% in 2016. Further moderate growth is also predicted over the next five years to 2021.

Over this period the annual growth in mobile subscribers has reached in excess of 100% at times. Most significantly the mobile networks have provided a major boost to internet access in the country, largely on the back of EDGE/GPRS and more recently 3G technology platforms. It was not always like this. Bhutan had been isolated from the rest of the world for a long time both generally, and particularly in terms of its telecommunications. Its mountainous landscape made it especially difficult to build the necessary telecoms infrastructure.

The number of fixed telephone lines in Bhutan is gradually declining from a relatively small base as the mobile segment continues to expand. Overall penetration dropped from 3.1% in 2014 to 2.9% in 2015 and 2.7% in 2016.

Bhutan came late to the internet. Development continued down a slow path, as the country embraced online activity cautiously. In fact the internet penetration continues to be disconcertingly low for a country trying to lift itself up economically. However, this was compensated by a new booming mobile internet/broadband market.

Fixed broadband penetration in Bhutan is increasing moderately from a relatively small base. Penetration increased from 2.3% in 2012 to 3.1% in 2014 and nearly 4% in 2016. Fixed broadband penetration is predicted to grow strongly over the next five years to 2021.

The regulator awarded a second national mobile licence to local industrial conglomerate, the Tashi Group, in late 2006. The licence conditions required Tashi to launch a commercial service within one year. TashiCell eventually began operations in early 2008, providing the competition sought by the regulator. Tashi held a 30% share of the mobile subscriber base in 2016.

Key developments:

Bhutan Telecom has reconfigured its 3G network in Gelephu to use 850MHz spectrum, rather than the 2100MHz frequencies previously utilised
Bhutan's telecom sector has been continuing on a steady development path;
Initially driven by positive growth in its mobile market, this has shifted to growth in internet access in its various forms;
With the success of the mobile network, fixed-line subscriber numbers have eased downwards over the last few years;
The country has been moving steadily towards a democratic system of government; the hope was that this would start to bring significant structural reform to all sectors of the economy;



Companies mentioned in this report
Bhutan Telecom, B-Mobile, DrukNet, Samden Tech, Tashi InfoComm, TashiCell, Ericsson, Reliance, Airtel.

Table Of Contents

Bhutan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband
1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Country overview
3.1 Background
3.2 Economy
4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Market Overview and Analysis
5. Regulatory environment
5.1 Bhutan Telecommunications Act 1999
5.2 Bhutan Information Communications and Media (BICM) Act 2006
5.3 BICMA legislation amendment or repeal?
5.4 Licensing
5.4.1 Overview
5.4.2 Second mobile licence
6. Fixed network operators
6.1 Bhutan Telecom
7. Telecommunications infrastructure
7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
7.1.1 Overview
7.1.2 Bhutan Telecom's infrastructure roll-out
7.1.3 Fixed-line statistics
7.1.4 Fibre networks
7.1.5 Universal Service Fund (USF)
7.1.6 Remote communities
7.1.7 Rural communications programs
7.2 International infrastructure
7.2.1 Overview
7.2.2 Satellite
7.2.3 Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs)
8. Fixed-line broadband market
8.1 Market analysis
8.2 Internet and Broadband statistics
8.3 ISP market
8.3.1 DrukNet
8.3.2 Samden Tech
8.4 Forecasts broadband subscribers 2016; 2018; 2021
8.4.1 Notes on scenario forecasts
9. Mobile market
9.1 Market Overview and Analysis
9.2 Mobile statistics
9.3 Mobile broadband
9.4 Forecasts mobile subscribers 2016; 2018; 2021
10. Mobile infrastructure
10.1 Digital networks
10.1.1 3G
10.1.2 4G LTE
11. Major mobile operators
11.1 Operator Statistics
11.2 B-Mobile
11.3 Tashi InfoComm (Tashicell)
12. Digital economy
12.1 Introduction
12.2 e-Government
12.3 e-Education
12.3.1 Other
13. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Bhutan 2016 (e)
Table 2 Telephone network statistics 2016 (e)
Table 3 Internet user statistics 2016 (e)
Table 4 Broadband statistics 2016 (e)
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2016 (e)
Table 6 National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 Bhutan's GDP real growth rate 2006 - 2016
Table 8 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2006 - 2016
Table 9 Historical - fixed lines in service and Penetration 1995 - 2005
Table 10 - Historic - Internet users and penetration rate 1999 2009
Table 11 Internet users and penetration rate 2010 - 2016
Table 12 Historic - Fixed internet subscribers 2003 - 2014
Table 13 Historic - Dial-up internet subscribers 2001 2008; 2010 - 2014
Table 14 Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration 2008 - 2016
Table 15 DSL broadband internet subscribers 2008 - 2016
Table 16 Broadband / Internet subscribers by type of access 2008; 2012 - 2016
Table 17 International internet bandwidth 2000 - 2016
Table 18 Percentage of households with a computer 2002 - 2016
Table 19 Bhutan - Forecast Broadband subscribers 2016; 2018; 2021
Table 20 - Historic - Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration 2003 2009
Table 21 Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration 2010 - 2016
Table 22 Mobile broadband subscribers 2009 - 2016
Table 23 Bhutan - Forecast mobile subscriber growth 2016; 2018; 2021
Table 24 Mobile operators and systems
Table 25 Total mobile subscribers and market share by operator 2016
Table 26 Historic - Total mobile subscribers by operator 2014
Table 27 B-Mobile's subscribers 2003 - 2016
Table 28 B-Mobile's 3G subscribers 2008 - 2016
Table 29 TashiCell mobile subscribers 2010 - 2016
Chart 1 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2006 - 2016
Chart 2 - Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration 2006 - 2016
Chart 3 - Mobile subscribers and penetration 2010 - 2016
Exhibit 1 Level of competition by market segment
Exhibit 2 Licences issued by service category
Exhibit 3 Licensed ISPs

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