Gulfsat licensed as Madagascar’s second backbone operator

Gulfsat licensed as Madagascar’s second backbone operator

Telecom services in Madagascar have benefited from intensifying competition between the main operators, including Orange Madagascar, Airtel and the incumbent telco Telma.

A fourth mobile operator, Gulfsat Madagascar, operating under the Blueline banner, has its own mobile network and in mid-2020 was licensed to build its own fibre network, thus ending the monopoly long held by Telma.

Positive developments in the international connectivity are also materialising following investments in the METISS cable connecting to South Africa and Mauritius. Landing stations for this cable were completed in June 2020. The country’s connection to the Africa-1 cable will provide additional links to the African mainland and to other international cable systems.

A national fibre backbone has been implemented connecting the major cities, with Telma having invested some $250 million to expand the network to 11,000km between 2017 and 2019. Wireless access networks are being rolled out, with Telma having completed a network upgrade to LTE-A, and with the government in mid-2020 committing itself to deploying free WiFi hotspots in a bid to ensure that poorest sections of society have access to internet services.

Penetration rates in all market sectors are still below African averages, and so there remains considerable growth potential.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key Developments:

  • Telma ordered to suspend its 5G service;
  • Madagascar to host landing station for the Africa-1 cable system, to be ready in 2021;
  • National backbone network extended to 11,000km;
  • Gulfsat Madagascar secures licence to become the second national backbone provider;
  • Government announces plans to deploy free Wi-Fi hotspots;
  • Orange Madagascar completes national LTE-A network upgrade;
  • Telecom service tax drops to 8%;
  • Report update includes the regulator's market data updates for 2019, telcos' operating data to Q2 2020, assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

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Developing Telecoms market report summaries are produced in partnership with BuddeComm, the world’s largest continually updated online telecommunications research service.

The above article is a summary of the following BuddeComm report:

Report title: Madagascar - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Edition: November 2020

Lead Analyst: Henry Lancaster

Contributing Analyst: Peter Lange

Number of pages: 98

Companies mentioned in this report: Telecom Malagasy (Telma), Airtel Madagascar (Zain, Celtel), Orange Madagascar, Madamobil, Gulfsat Madagascar (Blueline), Datacom, Data Telecom Services (DTS, Moov)

Single User PDF Licence Price: US$750

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