Although the Maldives has a population of only 348,000 the telecom market is bolstered by the considerable influx of tourists, notes Research & Markets.
Steady growth in recent years has attracted international investment, including the Qatar-based Ooredoo Group. The vibrant tourist sector helps to account for the unusually high mobile penetration rate, though multiple SIM card use is also widely adopted. In addition, a large number of expatriate workers require SIM cards on a semi-temporary basis.
The two licensed operators, Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu) and Ooredoo Maldives, have both invested in HSPA and LTE infrastructure, providing national coverage with the former and expecting to provide coverage with the latter to all populated islands by the end of 2019. This development has encouraged the take-up of mobile broadband services among subscribers. Both operators also provide fixed-line services.
The country has given priority to telecom infrastructure upgrades, with considerable success. There is a well-developed national network, though investment has been concentrated in the capital Mal as well as in the tourist resort islands. The submarine cable connection to Sri Lanka improved international bandwidth and helped reduce access pricing for end-users. A second submarine cable linked the archipelago to India in 2006.
Additional cables linking the main atolls has substantially strengthened domestic connectivity. This was augmented by a new inter-island National Submarine Cable network contracted by Ooredoo Maldives: the 1,200km nationwide system, which came into service at the end of 2016, supports traffic demand arising from increased use of mobile broadband and fibre. In 2016 international internet bandwidth increased 37%.