Angola attracting massive LTE investment

With peace restored in 2002 after decades of civil war, foreign investment in Angola has multiplied and the mobile market has soared despite a continued duopoly between Unitel and Angola Telecom's Movicel. Intensified competition from a third mobile operator could accelerate growth further, according to Research & Markets. Several multinational operators have expressed interest in such a licence or other strategic investments in Angola in the US$100 million range.

Competition was also introduced in the underdeveloped fixed-line market, but launch delays and consolidation among the newly licensed players have led to a duopoly in this sector as well between Angola Telecom (AT) and Mercury Telecom. After three years of loss-making operations, Telecom Namibia is pulling out of its investment in fixed-wireless operator Mundo Startel, citing regulatory obstacles.

EV-DO and WiMAX-based fixed-wireless as well as 3G and 4G (LTE) mobile broadband services are now also providing more internet access choices for consumers, competing with ATs ADSL, cable modem and Fibre to the Home (FttH) services. Prices have started to come down with the landing of WACS, the second international fibre optic submarine cable in the country, following years of monopolisation by AT of SAT-3/WASC, the only international cable serving the country until 2012. The operators have budgeted billions of US$ in investments into mobile broadband and national fibre backbone networks for the period 2013-15.

Angola Telecom is going through a restructuring process with the help of international consultants, which is seen as a step towards greater liberalisation of the country's telecom market, improved efficiency of the national telco and its eventual privatisation. A majority stake in its mobile unit, Movicel has already been sold to private investors and a migration from CDMA to GSM/UMTS/LTE technology has delivered a boost to the mobile market in the past two years. AT has national and international fibre, copper and satellite infrastructure assets worth billions of US$. As part of the restructuring program, the government approved an injection of US$300 million into the company in November 2012. Angola is preparing to launch its first own communications satellite into orbit in 2014.

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