22 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 10, 2012
Since 1988 the Maldivian population was subject to monopolistic behavior in all three ICT subsectors. There was meant to be liberalization in 2003 and 2005 in the Internet and mobile subsectors respectively with the issuance of licenses to Focus Infocom (Internet) and Wataniya (mobile); however, as current HHIs show the market is still has a high level of concentration with low levels of competition. In comparison to the Internet subsector, the mobile subsector has a higher level of competition with a 24:76 percent market split between Wataniya and the incumbent Dhiraagu. This is due to the heavy investments made by QTel, Wataniya’s parent company to expand the network and increase coverage in resort islands, which was a severe roadblock in the initial years. Dhiraagu remains the sole provider for fixed line services despite their exclusivity being lifted in 2009.
As seen in most parts of the developing world, mobile subscriptions in the Maldives had tremendous growth especially in the prepaid market while fixed line numbers declined. In 2011 there were 24,084 fixed lines and 530,449 mobile subscriptions; almost double the population. This is due to the fact that the majority uses SIM cards from both mobile network operators to make use of on-net tariff savings; again mirroring the trend in South Asia. Although Dhiraagu maintains majority market share, Wataniya remains a competitive force. This is not the same in the Internet subsector. Broadband users soared in 2011; however, Focus Infocom has not been able to capture the market and only operates in Malé. Therefore, the key recommendations of this paper are to issue a 3rd license to a service provider with the ability to compete with Dhiraagu for Internet services, mandating open access of Dhiraagu’s network to make market entry attractive and to avoid duplicate implementations of backbone networks and for a neutral body such as the Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) to take on the responsibility of maintenance of the local .mv domain.
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