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Botswana’s BoFiNet expands Wi-Fi availability
In the telecom sector, effective regulatory reform has turned the country’s telecom market into one of the most liberalised in the region. There is a service-neutral licensing regime which takes into account the increasing convergence of technologies and services.
Botswana has one of the highest mobile market penetration rates in Africa, approaching 170%. Popular use of multiple SIM cards from different operators has delayed the introduction of mobile number portability, with the telecom regulator not convinced of the facility’s economic benefits at present. In a bid to generate new revenue streams and secure market share, the three mobile network operators (MNOs) – Mascom Wireless (an affiliate of South Africa’s MTN), Orange Botswana (backed by Orange Group) and beMobile (a subsidiary of the fixed-line incumbent BTC) – have entered the underdeveloped broadband sector with different strategies including 3G mobile, LTE, WiMAX, and bundling with fixed-line (DSL) services. In this market they compete with a large number of ISPs, some of which have rolled out their own wireless access infrastructure.
After a period of stagnation, the number of internet users has risen strongly in recent years, largely the result of lower prices following improvements in international connectivity. Historically, the landlocked country has depended on satellites for its international bandwidth, and on other countries for transit capacity to landing points of international submarine fibre optic cable systems. The landing of additional cables in the region in recent years has improved the competitive situation in this sector, while prices for connectivity have fallen by up to 70%.
The much delayed privatisation of BTC has been facilitated by the transfer of network assets and the management of BTC’s involvement in two key submarine cables to the newly create wholesale operator Botswana Fiber Networks (BoFiNet). BTC has been transformed into a retailer of services. An IPO was completed in April 2016. There was considerable interest in the 44% of the company made available, with 5% reserved for employees and 51% being retained by the state. Some 50,000 private investors now have a stake in the operator.
Access to BoFiNet’s Wi-Fi hotspots given to customers of the ISP CENE; BTC Mobile merged with BTC; BTC shares trading on Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE); BoFiNet completes three fibre network expansion links costing BWP200 million; Botswana Power Corporation and Liquid Telecom develop Liquid Telecom Botswana as a new network provider; BTC to merge with beMobile; regulator introduces Unified Licensing Framework; BTC awards Amdocs a five-year managed services contract for BSS; BTL launches mobile VSAT product; MNOs in southern African countries trial reduced roaming rates; Orange Botswana and Mascom launch LTE services; Orange signs multi-year managed services contract with Ericsson; Universal Access and Service Fund providing Wi-Fi access in public spaces; report update includes telcos’ data to Q4 2016, regulator’s 2016 annual report and market data to Q3 2016, recent market developments.
Market penetration rates in Botswana’s telecoms sector – 2016 (e)
|Penetration of telecoms services:||Penetration|
|Mobile SIM (population)||176%|
Companies mentioned in this report:
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC); Mascom Wireless (MTN); Orange Botswana (Vista Cellular); beMobile; Botsnet; MTN Business; InfoBotswana (IBIS); Broadband Botswana Internet (BBI); OPQ Net; Mega Internet; Global Broadband Solution (GBS); Tsagae Communications; Virtual Business Network Services (VBN); Bytes Technology; Fourth Dimension; Hi-Performance Systems; Microteck Enterprises; Tharinet; Netspread; First National Bank.