As LION lands in Madagascar, Orange roars for updated fixed line legislation


Madagascar’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Orange Madagascar, has announced that it has completed its submarine cable project, LION, and has connected the cable at Tamatave in the Toamasina region.

Funded by Orange Madagascar, France Telecom and Mauritius Telecom, the 1,800km broadband cable links with the existing SAT3/WASC and SAFE cable and has a capacity of 1.3Tbps. It also connects Madagascar with the islands of Reunion and Mauritius, and Orange maintains the new link will contribute to the development of regional cooperation in the Indian Ocean.

However, despite the completion of the development, Orange has complained that the Malagasy government has still not completed the necessary legal framework to allow the ‘full exploitation of the cable’. It has called on the state to regulate so that it can begin to offer commercial services.

Incumbent Telecom Malagasy’s (Telma’s) monopoly on the fixed line sector was due to end on 30 June 2008, but regulator OMERT has yet to legislate to officially open the market. The regulator itself is supposed to have been replaced by a new body but has been in suspended animation for over two years. The current political uncertainty adds to the difficulties of getting the matter resolved.