426 Telecom Strategies & Trends Titles

The Lao mobile market: competition amidst active government participation

Published: 2013-12-18

Laos, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a country in Southeast Asia, landlocked by five other countries – China and Myanmar in the North, Thailand in the West, Cambodia in the South and Vietnam in the eastern side. The country’s economy mainly relies on agriculture which represents more than half of its gross domestic product and employs more than 80% of its total labour force according to the country’s statistics office. World Bank estimates that a third of Laos’ population still lives below the international poverty average, with an overall GDP per capita of only around $1.4 a day in 2012 - typical of a lower middle income economy.

Despite several limitations illustrated in the article, the Lao mobile market still presents an interesting potential. It is expected to post a modest growth in the next five years, as the already high penetration rate in the country (2013 estimate at 106%) will impact the acquisition of new subscribers. Active government participation, such as the state's regulation on prepaid ownership – adopted mainly for security purposes, this is an order from the Ministry of Post, Telecommunication and Communication (MPTC) that all mobile prepaid subscribers’ identities must be registered – will also affect mobile growth, as it will discourage users to easily switch or avail of another prepaid service from other mobile networks. On the services side, the expansion of 4G LTE network will usher the development of new services supported by higher bandwidths. In light of the growing popularity of mobile Internet, InfoCom expects ARPU to further stabilise, or even increase slightly in the next few years, with the help of government regulation through the imposition of a price floor policy.

Published: 2013-12-18

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