Internet service provider (ISP) Gulfsat Madagascar, which offers commercial services under the Blueline banner, has become the first operator in the country to launch 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. At launch, coverage is limited to the capital city of Antananarivo, the town of Ambohidratrimo and the surrounding areas, with Blueline’s Wi-Fi-enabled modem available to purchase from eleven retail outlets situated in Madagascar’s major towns and cities. Subscribers in Antananarivo are offered two tariffs, both with unlimited data usage – one providing speeds up to 1Mbps, the other offering 2Mbps – which are priced at MGA129,000 (USD48.7) and MGA169,000 per month, respectively; prices for subscribers based outside of the capital vary. Although the official 4G launch date is unclear, Blueline’s Facebook page suggests that the network switch-on occurred on 11 December.
Earlier, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in May 2010 Telecom Malagasy (Telma) inked a deal with Blueline allowing the latter to offer mobile data-only services via Telma’s 3G network through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement; as of January 2015 the partnership remains active. The launch of Blueline’s 4G network follows news reported by TeleGeography in October 2014 that Madagascar is finally set to see the implementation of Law No. 2005-023 of October 2005, enforcing complete liberalisation of the telecoms market, the sharing of telecoms infrastructure and – according to Head of the Ministry of Posts, Telecoms and New Technolgies (MPTNT), Neypatraiky Rakotomamonjy – the chance for all operators to offer 4G.