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Telecommunications in Swaziland

Telecommunications in Swaziland includes radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet.

Ownership and regulation

Swaziland is one of the last countries in the world to abolish an almost complete monopoly in all sectors of its telecommunications market. Until 2011 the state-owned operator, Swaziland Posts & Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), also acted as the industry regulator and had a stake in the country’s sole mobile network, in partnership with South Africa’s Mobile Telephone Networks Group (MTN). In a bid to enter the mobile market independently, SPTC transferred its stake in MTN and the regulatory authority to the government. In return, Swazi MTN received a 3G licence and the right to provide its own backbone network and international gateway. However, proposals have been made to reinstate SPTC's monopoly on the national backbone and the international gateway, and MTN is challenging SPTC in the courts over its move into the mobile market.[1]

Radio and television

  • Radio stations:
    • State-owned radio network with 3 channels, 1 private radio station (2007);[2]
    • AM 3, FM 2 plus 4 repeaters, shortwave 3 (2001);
    • AM 3, FM 4, shortwave 1 (1998).
  • Radios: 155,000 (1997).[dated info]


  • Calling code: +268[2]
  • International call prefix: 00[3]
  • Main lines in use:
    • 48,600 lines, 164th in the world (2012);[2]
    • 44,000 lines (2009);
    • 38,500 lines (2001);
    • 20,000 lines (1996).
  • Mobile cellular:
    • 805,000 lines, 160th in the world (2012);[2]
    • 732,700 lines (2009);
    • 250,000 lines (2007);
    • none (1996).
  • Telephone system: a somewhat modern, but not an advanced system; single source for mobile-cellular service with a geographic coverage of about 90% and a rising subscriber-ship base; combined fixed-line and mobile cellular teledensity roughly 60 telephones per 100 persons in 2011; telephone system consists of carrier-equipped, open-wire lines and low-capacity, microwave radio relay.[2]
  • Satellite earth stations: 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009).[2]

Mobile market penetration in Swaziland has been well above the African average, but subscriber growth has slowed in recent years. The average revenue per user (APRU) is one of the highest in Africa. The government is considering issuing another mobile licence to an international operator.[1]


The Internet sector has been open to competition with four licensed Internet service providers (ISPs), but prices have remained high and market penetration relatively low. ADSL was introduced in 2008 and 3G mobile broadband services in 2011, but development of the sector has been hampered by the limited fixed-line infrastructure and a lack of competition in the access and backbone network.[1]

Swaziland has a relatively well-developed fibre optic backbone network. However, being landlocked, the country depends on neighbouring countries for international fibre bandwidth which has led to high prices. A reduction of the high cost of international bandwidth is expected from the several new submarine fibre optic cables that have reached the region recently.[1]

Internet censorship and surveillance

There are no official government restrictions on access to the Internet. For the most part, individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail. Nevertheless, there are reports that the government monitors e-mail, Facebook, and Internet chat rooms and that police tap certain individuals' telephones.[10]

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, but the king may deny these rights at his discretion, and the government does at times restrict these rights, especially regarding political issues or the royal family. The law empowers the government to ban publications if they are deemed "prejudicial or potentially prejudicial to the interests of defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health." Most journalists practice self-censorship. The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence except "in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, use of mineral resources, and development of land in the public benefit"; however, the government does not always respect these prohibitions and broadly construes exceptions to the law.[10]

In March 2012 the Times of Swaziland reported that a number of senators asked that the government take legal action against individuals who criticized King Mswati III on social networking sites. Minister of Justice Mgwagwa Gamedze backed the calls and said he would look for "international laws" that could be used to charge offenders.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Swaziland - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband", BuddeComm. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Communications: Swaziland", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 7 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  3. ^ Dialing Procedures (International Prefix, National (Trunk) Prefix and National (Significant) Number) (in Accordance with ITY-T Recommendation E.164 (11/2010)), Annex to ITU Operational Bulletin No. 994-15.XII.2011, International Telecommunication Union (ITU, Geneva), 15 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b Calculated using penetration rate and population data from "Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2012", Population data, International Programs, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 26 June 2013
  5. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
  6. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  8. ^ Select Formats, Country IP Blocks. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Site is said to be updated daily.
  9. ^ Population, The World Factbook, United States Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Data are mostly for 1 July 2012.
  10. ^ a b c "Swaziland", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 21 March 2013. Retrieved 20 January 20142

External links

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