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Liberia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

  • November 2016
  • 32 pages
  • Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd
Report ID: 3599178

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Liberian politicians reject proposal to tax free mobile calls
After more than a decade of civil war which destroyed much of its infrastructure, Liberia became a prime example of an almost entirely wireless telecommunications market. Four mobile operators compete for customers LoneStar (majority owned by South Africa's MTN), Comium (Novafone), Cellcom and LiberCell.

Internet services are available from a number of wireless ISPs as well as the mobile networks using GPRS, EDGE, HSPA and WiMAX and 3G technologies. The high cost and limited bandwidth of connections means that most service offerings remain expensive and are below recognised broadband speeds. Nevertheless, substantial improvement have resulted from the landing of the first international fibre optic submarine cable in the country, though this still requires considerable investment in domestic fixed-line infrastructure for end-users to gain full benefit from the cable.

In the mobile sector, competition has led to some of the lowest call prices in Africa despite the lack of basic infrastructure in the country which has resulted in an expensive operating environment. The harmonisation of the disorderly licensing and spectrum allocation regime inherited from previous governments has proven difficult. However, market penetration remains low compared to other markets in the region.
An attempt to privatise the dysfunctional fixed network operator, the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (now Libtelco), failed in 2005. Since then, efforts to resuscitate the previously neglected incumbent have continued. A wireless 3G system based on CDMA EV-DO technology enabled the company to enter the mobile market as a fifth player and to provide wireless broadband services. There are also plans for a national fibre backbone network. These assets would create an attractive opportunity to a strategic investor in a likely renewed privatisation in the near future.

The market is ineffectively monitored by the telecom regulator, which lacks the resources, technical expertise and documentation to enforce its orders. As a result, a number of operators are able to avoid paying dues to the government, and operate despite the regulator's rulings that they must cease operating in the market.

Key developments:

Regulator revises MTR model through to 2020;
Orange Group acquires Cellcom Liberia;
Cellcom Liberia launches the country's first LTE network;
Government paying salaries using mobile money services;
Parties bid to acquire Novafone;
Underfunded telecoms regulator failing to monitor sector effectively;
Regulator to receive portion of operator revenue under new payment regime;
Government and regulator impose SIM card registration in a bid to reduce crime;
Libtelco launches first phase of its fibre network in tie-up to the ACE cable system;
Novafone launches HSPA+ mobile services;
Report update includes telcos' operating data, recent market developments.

Market penetration rates in Liberia's telecoms sector 2016 (e)
Penetration of telecoms services: | Penetration
Fixed-line telephony | 0.2%
Fixed broadband | 0.2%
Mobile SIM (population) | 84.8%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Companies mentioned in this report:

Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC, Libtelco), MTN Liberia (LoneStar), Cellcom, Comium (Novafone), LiberCell, Globacom, West Africa Telecom (WAT).

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