The island nation of Mauritius has long been a pioneer in the telecom sector. It was the first market in the greater Africa region to launch cellular systems (in 1989), the first to provide commercial 3G mobile service (2004), the first in the world to develop a nationwide WiMAX wireless broadband network (2005), and one of the first to launch IPTV services (2006). LTE services are now widely available, providing data at up to 100Mb/s.

The incumbent telco, Mauritius Telecom, has been partially privatised and now benefits from the scale and technical prowess of Orange Group, which holds a 40% interest in the operator. All sectors of the market are open to competition. Served by a modern, digital fixed-line network, fibre optic submarine cables for international connectivity, three mobile networks, and a number of broadband and other service providers, Mauritius is successfully pursuing a policy to make telecommunications the fifth pillar of its economy, and to become a regional telecom hub. The government has been active in promoting its national broadband policy. The government has been instrumental in securing infrastructure upgrades, including an upgrade for satellite connectivity to Rodrigues, which became operational in mid-2013, as well as improved submarine cable capacity to the island, affected in 2015.

The mobile market, with penetration at 146% by mid-2016, is migrating from Voice to Data Services. There are three GSM network operators – Mauritius Telecom (in partnership with Orange Group), Emtel (now operated by the local Currimjee Jeewanjee Group and by Bharti Enterprises), and Mahanagar, a subsidiary of India’s MTNL which is also the island’s second fixed-line operator using CDMA2000 technology.

The highest growth rates are currently seen in the mobile broadband sector, where LTE, HSPA and EV-DO based 3G services compete with fixed-line DSL and other wireless broadband offerings, including WiMAX. FttC and FttP rollouts are in progress, delivering 100Mb/s connections to the residential sector and options for a 1Gb/s services for businesses. Mauritius Telecom is investing more than Rs5 billion to fast-track national FttP deployment by the end of 2017.

End-user pricing has fallen in recent years following the landing of a second international submarine fibre optic cable.