Sunday, 5 April 2020

Mauritius: The Most Mature Telecoms Market in Africa


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 mobile telecom networks (in 1989), the first to provide a 3G 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 and fibre broadband services are nationally available, while the government has also supported the building of a national Wi-Fi network, with additional funds set aside in the 2017-18 Budget.

The incumbent telco, Mauritius Telecom, has been partially privatised and 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. The country is a hub for submarine cables providing international connectivity, with the first stage of laying the IOX Cable underway and expected to be ready for service in 2019. The LION3 cable provides additional capacity and is helping make Mauritius a regional hub for cable connectivity.

Mauritius is successfully pursuing a policy to make telecommunications a pillar of economic growth, and to have a fully digital-based infrastructure,

The mobile market, with penetration at 143% by late 2018, is migrating from voice to data services. There are three network operators –Mauritius Telecom (in partnership with Orange Group), Emtel (operated by the Currimjee Jeewanjee Group and Bharti Enterprises), and Mahanagar (a subsidiary of MTNL which is also the island’s second fixed-line operator using CDMA2000 technology). These operators have steadily increased the reach of their LTE infrastructure to support growing demand for mobile data services.

Mauritius remains the most mature African country when it comes to telecoms, according to the 2019 Africa Telecoms Maturity Index by BuddeComm.

According to the index, in Mauritius, the thriving tourism market has stimulated the broadband sector. The island nation has extensive DSL infrastructure and operators have deployed fiber-based services in a number of locations.

There are three mobile operators on Mauritius:

my.t (formerly Orange)
Emtel
MTML (Chili)

All MNOs offer 2G on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz and started 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz. 4G/LTE is available for prepaid. On the outlying islands, Rodrigues has 4G/LTE coverage with the networks of Emtel and my.t and on Agalega there is 4G/LTE coverage only from my.t.




My.t is the incumbent provider owned by Mauritius Telecom with the best coverage and most customers on the island. In October 2017 it rebranded its products and services from Orange label to the name of my.t. Despite MT no longer using Orange branding, the French telecoms group still owns the majority 40% stake in the Mauritius operator.

Their 4G/LTE has the largest coverage on the island(s) so far. On the outlying islands of Rodrigues and Agalega only my.t has a 4G/LTE coverage. Mauritius Telecom has partnered with Huawei who they are aiming for the deployment of the 5G network in Mauritius sometime in 2020. Although this may be delayed now.



Emtel is the second provider on Mauritius. Its 3G coverage is equal to my.t, but its 4G/LTE is not so widespread. Their rates are slightly lower than my.t's.




Chili is the mobile label owned by Mahanagar Telephone Mauritius Ltd., the Mauritian mobile unit of an Indian conglomerate. It's the 3rd operator on the island with the lowest rates. 3G/HSPA+ dubbed as "4G" started in 2015. MTML also runs a GSM-incompatible CDMA network, which is not marketed as Chili. It has the lowest coverage on the islands so far without any 4G/LTE.

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