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Mobile market in Laos still struggling to find right directionThe telecom sector in Laos still has numerous issues to address. The rate of regulatory reform continues to be well behind wider industry development, even for a developing economy like Laos. The delays in reform have the potential to derail the good progress already made if the process is not speeded up.
The mobile sector in particular has been going through a difficult period. Following the Beeline saga back in 2011/2012, the fallout was still being felt into 2015. A cloud of uncertainty seems to be hanging over the whole market. Subscriber growth is weak after the market had gone backwards for a while. The cellcos are now operating in an environment where the regulator is keeping a tight hold on pricing and competition is in effect discouraged. A further problem emerging for the mobile operators is that network performance is deteriorating across the board. This in turn highlighted two important issues - there has been insufficient investment by the operators in the areas of network maintenance and upgrades, and, secondly, there are obvious deficiencies in the regulatory environment in how the authorities apply and manage network performance standards. It is understood that the MPT had started to address the latter problem in 2015.
The countrys accession to the WTO was finalised in early 2013. As a consequence Laos is now required to implement its post-WTO accession agenda. Of critical importance for the countrys telecom sector, the WTO Reference Paper on telecommunications among other things calls for the setting up an independent telecom regulator. Indeed, this was required to be put in place two years after accession (ie by February 2015). By June 2015 this had not been achieved. It was understood that work was proceeding on the matter.
Internet services in Laos continue to lag. This remains a major concern in terms of the overall social and economic development of the country. The good news is that since 2011/2012 there has been a boom in mobile broadband internet services (although it has been hard to get reliable statistics on this part of the market). The expansion of internet and especially broadband into the provinces and the rural areas is high on the governments list of development priorities.
On a positive note, the Lao economy continues to perform well and the IMF has forecast further strong growth, at least in the short term. In the last five or six years there certainly has been a noticeable shift in the economic and social outlook for Laos. After a number of decades of having to struggle with a poorly performing economy and a commercial environment that was in desperate need of reform, there is now positive news being reported on many fronts for this nation of almost seven million people. Most importantly, a significant number of hydro-electric power projects and mining ventures have become reality, with even more possible projects in the pipeline. Laos is finally moving forward in what might be described as a confident fashion.
The mobile market in Laos continues to be in disarray four years after the so-called Beeline crisis;
The growth in mobile subscribers has stalled as the regulator maintains a strict policy on pricing;
Mobile penetration had fallen back to 63percent coming into 2015, this being below the 65percent penetration reported four years earlier;
A further setback for the mobile sector has been the recent decline in network performance, a problem being felt across all the mobile networks;
Despite the difficulties in the mobile sector, mobile broadband continues to expand at a rapid rate;
The MPT implemented compulsory SIM registration for prepaid mobile services in 2014;
The government was moving forward to implement new internet laws/decrees which were attracting some criticism internationally;
The MPT/LANIC was preparing to implement the governments proposed single internet gateway policy, which will require all operators to use the government-managed facility;
The country is on track to launch its first satellite, LaoSat-1, by December 2015.Companies mentioned in this report:
Lao Telecom (LTC), Thaicom, ETL, Unitel, Lao Asia Telecom, Star Telecom, Viettel, Beeline, Tango, Tigo, Millicom, Vimpelcom, Planet Online, Sky Telecom, China-APMT.
Table of Contents
1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Country overview
3.3 WTO accession
4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Market Overview and Analysis
4.2 Historical overview
5. Regulatory environment
5.1 Historical overview
5.2 Regulatory authority
5.3 Regulatory developments
5.4 Internet Regulation
6. Fixed network operators
6.2 Lao Telecom
6.2.2 Corporate structure
6.2.3 Fixed-line operations
6.3 Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao (ETL)
6.3.2 Fixed-line operations
7. Telecommunications infrastructure
7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
7.1.1 Forecasts - fixed-line market - 2015; 2020
7.2 Fibre Networks
7.3 International infrastructure
7.3.2 Terrestrial cable links
8. Fixed-line broadband market
8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
8.1.1 Top level domain name
8.2 Market analysis
8.3 Broadband statistics
8.4 Forecasts - Internet subscribers - 2016; 2018; 2021
8.4.1 Notes on scenario forecasts
8.5 Fixed-line broadband technologies
8.5.1 Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) networks
9. Mobile market
9.1 Market Overview and Analysis
9.2 Mobile statistics
9.3 Mobile broadband
9.4 Forecasts - mobile subscribers - 2015 - 2020
10. Mobile infrastructure
10.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile services
10.2 Long Term Evolution (LTE) / 4G services
11. Major mobile operators
11.4.3 Mobile operations
11.5 Unitel (formerly Lao Asia Telecom)
11.6 Sky Telecom
12. Digital Media
12.2 Digital TV
12.3 Communications: VoIP, messaging, conferencing
13. Related reports
Table 1 - Country statistics Laos - 2015 (e)
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2014 (e)
Table 3 - Telephone network statistics - 2014 (e)
Table 4 - Internet user statistics - 2014 (e)
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - 2014 (e)
Table 6 - National telecommunications authority
Table 7 - Laos GDP real growth rate - 2006 - 2016
Table 8 - Laos GDP real growth rate - 2006 - 2016
Table 9 - Historical - Fixed-line subscribers - 1995 - 2005
Table 10 - Fixed-line subscribers - 2006 - 2015
Table 11 - WLL (fixed) subscribers - 2004 - 2014
Table 12 - Forecast fixed line subscribers and penetration rates - 2015; 2020
Table 13 - Fibre network by installed route length- 2010 - 2014
Table 14 - Fibre network by operator - 2012; 2014
Table 15 - Internet users - 1998 - 2015
Table 16 - Fixed internet subscribers - 1999 - 2014
Table 17 - Households with internet connection - 2005 - 2014
Table 18 - Internet bandwidth capacity - 2002 - 2014
Table 19 - Fixed broadband subscribers - 2003 - 2014
Table 20 - Overview of broadband/household subscribers - 2014
Table 21 - Fixed broadband subscribers by access type - 2010; 2014
Table 22 - Total broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2014
Table 23 - DSL subscribers - 2007 - 2014
Table 24 - Active mobile-broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2014
Table 25 - 3G mobile dongle (HSPA) subscribers - 2010 - 2014
Table 26 - Forecast fixed internet subscribers - 2015; 2020
Table 27 - Historical - mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration - 1995 - 2005
Table 28 - Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration - 2006 - 2015
Table 29 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - 2014
Table 30 - Mobile subscribers and market share by operator - 2014
Table 31 - Mobile services sector estimated ARPU - 1998 - 2014
Table 32 - Forecast mobile subscribers - 2015; 2020
Table 33 - 3G mobile subscribers - 2012 - 2014
Table 34 - Historical - LTCs mobile subscribers and annual change - 1995 - 2003
Table 35 - LTCs mobile subscribers and annual change - 2004 - 2014
Table 36 - ETLs mobile subscribers - 2003 - 2014
Table 37 - Beelines mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2015
Table 38 - Beelines mobile ARPU - 2011 - 2014
Table 39 - Beelines annual churn - 2011 - 2014
Table 40 - Unitels mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2014
Table 41 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2014
Chart 1 - Fixed lines in service - 2006 - 2015
Chart 2 - Internet users - 2005 - 2015
Chart 3 - Fixed internet subscribers - 2005 - 2014
Chart 4 - Fixed broadband subscribers - 2008 - 2014
Chart 5 - Active mobile-broadband subscribers - 2010 - 2014
Chart 6 - Mobile subscribers and annual change - 2006 - 2015
Chart 7 - Mobile subscribers and market share by operator - 2014
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