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Lesotho: Lesotho Communication Profile


Telecommunications in Lesotho has been transformed from a state-owned monopoly to a privatised national operator. There is effective competition in the mobile sector between South Africa-based Vodacom and Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL), though mobile market penetration remains below the regional average.

Fixed-line teledensity is also low, but the network gained more value when ADSL broadband technology was deployed in 2007. In parallel, ETL has rolled out a CDMA2000 fixed-wireless network to provide fixed-line replacements and wireless broadband services, following an upgrade to EV-DO technology. In addition, the company has introduced a fixed-mobile convergence product based on its GSM network and capitalising on its multi-platform capabilities.

Vodacom on the other hand was first to introduce mobile broadband services in the country based on HSPA technology. In parallel, the company has rolled out a WiMAX wireless broadband network. Several other internet service providers have rolled out their own wireless infrastructure.

Although landlocked, Lesotho has benefited from connectivity to the landing of several submarine fibre optic cables on the African east and west coasts, which saw bandwidth quadruple in 2012. Nevertheless, the improved international connectivity has not yet translated to lower broadband prices on the retail level.

Market highlights:

Improved internet connectivity following landing of international cables; retail broadband prices remain high; relatively high mobile ARPU; regulator revokes BTL’s telecom licence; ETL invests in a GPON network; Universal Service Agency expanding base tower infrastructure in remote areas; report includes an updated fixed-line broadband table, market developments to mid-2014.

Estimated market penetration rates in Lesotho’s telecoms sector – end-2013

Market Penetration rate
Mobile 71%
Fixed 1.7%
Internet 5.6%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

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