The Moroccan regulator, the ANRT has just released its quarterly statistics about the telecoms and internet sectors in the country. With close to 400,000 ADSL connections at the end of 2006, Morocco remains the top country in Africa in terms of broadband connections, well ahead of South Africa. In 2006, the growth rate for broadband has reached 57.8% and the number of subscribers has gone up from 248,011 in December 05 to 390,834 in December 06. Despite these good results, the Internet penetration rate is still a mere 1.34% at the end of 2006, a figure in progression when compared to a penetration rate of 0.88% at the end of 2005.

The migration from dial up connections to broadband has also continued at a rapid pace with. The number dropped by 40.4%. In 2006 the number of dial up subscribers has continued to decrease from 13,187 to just 7,862.

At the end of 2006, ADSL connections represent 97.8% of all internet connections in Morocco including dial up and leased lines. The other interesting change over the last year is the increase of the proportion of broadband connections with a higher speed than the basic 128kbit/s. In December 2006, the proportion of ADSL connections at 128kbit/s was down to 35% from 71% a year earlier. The number of broadband connections at 256kbit/s has on the other hand increased from 18% to 45% of the total number of ADSL connections. Further the proportion of connections at 512kbit/s has gone up from 4% to 10% over the past year too. However the number of connections at 1024kbit/s has gone down from 7% to 4% but this due to the introduction in 2006 of ADSL offers at 2 Mbit/s and 4 Mbit/s which accounts for 6% of the overall number of broadband connections.

Maroc Telecom which has just released its annual results for 2006 claims to have 384,000 ADSL subscribers. In other words the company’s share of the broadband market is a staggering 98.25%. This is likely to change during the coming year. As we reported last week, the Moroccan regulator is partially unbundling the local loop. At the start, new entrants like Meditel and Maroc Connect will only be able to use the high frequency part of the copper cable but this will enable them to offer alternate ADSL services which will compete with Maroc Telecom’s offers.