Macau boasts a sophisticated, independently regulated communications market due to Macau’s status as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China following its handover from Portugal. Gradual liberalisation has now fully opened the telecoms market with the full impact slowly becoming evident. Demand for telecom services is significantly driven by the millions of visitors that visit the tiny enclave every year. 87% of visitors classified as residents of mainland China or Hong Kong.

Macau’s fixed-line market is transitioning to a fibre broadband market as the incumbent Compahnia de Telecomunicações de Macau (CTM) invests significantly in fibre access networks. As of 2016 CTM had deployed fibre broadband coverage to the majority of residential units and 100% of commercial buildings. CTM’s investment coincides with the entrance of Macau’s second fixed-line operator MTEL, with the latter a threat to the monopoly CTM has over the fixed broadband market, a monopoly made possible due to CTM’s ownership of the underlying fixed access network.

CTM’s aggressive tactics are showing results as the majority of households are expected to be connected via fibre by 2017, closing the window of opportunity for MTEL to poach subscribers from CTM’s sizeable DSL subscriber base. CTM faces another potential competitor in Macau Cable TV operator which is obliged to expand the reach of its underground cable network sixfold by 2017.

Macau’s mobile market is the most competitive sector of the telecoms market, with four mobile network operators and a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) offering services. Competition is intense, with mobile penetration in excess of 200% due to multiple SIM card ownership as well as sales of SIM cards to visitors. Mobile broadband presents an alternative revenue growth opportunity, with LTE launches during 2015 allowing operators to offer more enticing products. In December 2015 CK 3 Macau launched its 4G LTE mobile network, making it the fourth and final LTE licensee to introduce commercial 4G services in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

For more information see – Macau - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband