Tuesday 2 May 2023

Seychelles Plans to Introduce 5G and Competition

Situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean with less than 100,000 inhabitants, the Seychelles is Africa’s least populous sovereign nation.

There are two mobile operators in the Seychelles: Airtel Seychelles and Cable & Wireless Seychelles. 
The following frequencies are used in Seychelles:
2G: 900 MHz
3G: 2100 MHz
4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20)
5G NR: unknown

Commercial 5G NR has been available in Seychelles since June 2020 with Cable & Wireless Seychelles. However, 5G NR is currently only available to postpaid customers. It is unknown when prepaid customers can get access to 5G NR networks. Moreover, it is unknown when Airtel Seychelles will launch 5G NR and whether it will be available to prepaid customers from the start or not.

Airtel Seychelles has more than a 50 percent share of the mobile market in the country. It was the first company to launch prepaid mobile services in 1999 and gradually upgraded its network to 3G and 4G connectivity. According to Amadou Dina, Managing Director of Airtel Seychelles.

“Airtel Seychelles is among the top four companies in the world in terms of telecommunications. We have almost 98 percent smartphone penetration and 95 percent 4G penetration in the country.” 

C&W Seychelles competes closely with Airtel in this duopoly mobile market. Recently C&W revealed that it has carried out a network optimisation project including adding extra 4G LTE and 5G mobile base stations to strengthen capacity, data speeds and coverage. The company – which launched 5G services in July 2020 – stated in one of the posts: ‘We can confirm we have rolled out more 5G and LTE mobile sites … more customers can access much faster LTE and 5G in more areas than before.’

In a parallel project, C&W announced that it is constructing new cell tower sites to mitigate poor call drop rates in certain network sections, with 13 new tower sites deployed in September 2022, out of a total of 25 planned for completion by the end of October. So far, the towers have been deployed in zones with weak cell coverage in the following areas: Anse Royale/Les Canelles, Anse Faure, La Salette, Piton, Bougainville, La Gogue, Anse Reunion, Le Niole, Ma Joie, Morne Blanc, Providence, St. Louis and Sunshine House.

This duopoly mobile market may soon be disrupted by Intelvision, a fixed broadband and pay-TV provider in the Seychelles, which has revealed a plan to enter the mobile market with a network rollout in partnership with Chinese vendor Huawei. Intelvision has been assigned 5G-suitable mobile frequencies, whilst in October 2019 the operator revealed a strategy to enter the mobile market in partnership with Huawei, although its initial plan to begin 4G/5G network rollout in 2020 was delayed. 

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