Cameroon's Broadband Market Set To Open Up In 2014
YooMee Africa has contracted Alcatel-Lucent to build out its LTE network in Cameroon. YooMee is a data-only provider in Cameroon, which currently offers WiMAX services on the University of Douala campus, where there are 70,000 students. Although Cameroon would seem an unlikely candidate for a 4G network, BMI believes the present lack of mobile broadband services in the country could allow YooMee to tap into a reasonable level of pent-up demand for more affordable data services.
YooMee's chief technical officer confirmed that the operator already has a 4G licence and expects to launch the next generation network within Q114. As of November 2013, Viettel was the only mobile operator in possession of a 3G licence, which it acquired in June 2013. Viettel intends to invest US$400mn in developing a 3G mobile network and will have 81% coverage of Cameroon's population when it launches in early 2014. Neither MTN nor Orange, which have held a duopoly over Cameroon's mobile market for several years, has a 3G licence, though MTN Cameron's CEO reported in early November that the operator was in talks with the government to procure one.
Meanwhile, without the option of launching 3G networks, mobile operators have resorted to offering mobile broadband services over WiMAX networks. LTE networks are faster and more efficient than WiMAX, so YooMee should be in a good position to compete with MTN and Orange's WiMAX services. Furthermore, with a connection to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable Cameroon now has direct access to international bandwidth, which should allow YooMee and Viettel to offer a high quality of service at an affordable price. This should pose significant upside risks to our broadband forecast for Cameroon, which currently see the broadband penetration rate remaining below 1% until 2017.
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