Until comparatively recently the monopoly telecommunications provider was Mauritius Telecom Ltd. In 2000 Telecom Plus, a subsidiary of Mauritius Telecom, was the sole ISP in Mauritius, offering access to the web, email and other Internet services facilities via its server Servihoo. However, in early 2001 Information Technology and Telecommunications Minister at the time, Pradeep Jeeha announced the liberalisation of Internet provider services in Mauritius.
By the end of 2012, there were six ISPs, and the number of internet subscribers had increased to 44% of the population (28.7% in 2011).
The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) was set up by Act of Parliament in late 2001. The ICTA is the successor institution to the Mauritius Telecommunication Authority (MTA) which was created in 2000 to regulate telecommunications in Mauritius.
The main objectives of the ICTA were defined, inter alia, as follows:
- Democratise access to information through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT);
- Create a level playing field for all operators in the defence of consumers
- Licence and regulate information and communication services
- Encourage optimum use of ICT in education, business and services
- Promote the competitive edge of Mauritius as an international player
- Facilitate Research and Development (R&D) in ICT and advise on new technologies.
In 2001 UTStarcom, a provider of telecommunications access equipment, announced the completion of a deal to provide Mauritius Telecom with access network equipment for a next generation xDSL leased line nationwide data network.
Also in 2001, Mauritius Telecom started the installation of underwater fibre-optic cables in Bay Jacotet, in the South of the country, 40 km from Port Louis to house the SAFE fibre-optic network (South Africa-Far East) which would go from Cape Town. SAFE will in turn be linked in Cape Town to SAT-3/WASC (South Atlantic Telephone-West African Submarine Cable), which is 15,000-km long and links Europe to South Africa and Western Africa. SAFE would continue this connection over 13,800 km from Cape Town to Malaysia, linking Mauritius, Reunion and India on the way. The SAT-3/WASC-SAFE network goes from Sesimbra, Portugal, to Penang, Malaysia, connecting along the way India, Mauritius, Reunion, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal and the Canaries. The network became operational in October 2001.
In January 2006, ICTA approved a considerable decrease in the tariffs of International Private Leased Circuits (IPLC), fixed line services, international calls and local calls in line with a government policy to make Mauritius more competitive internationally in the field of information and communication technology.
As a result of the changes, there was a reduction in International Private Leased Circuits (IPLC) rates applicable, with immediate effect, by Mauritius Telecom Ltd on the SAFE undersea cable ranging from 17% to 31%, with an overall average of around 22% on the existing rates.
Mauritius Telecom also, with immediate effect, cut tariffs in respect of International Direct Dialling (IDD) services by an average of 19.8%, while Emtel, Mahanagar Telephone (Mauritius) Ltd, City Call Ltd and Data Communications Ltd will cut their IDD services by margins of between 5% and 15%.
Meanwhile, City Call Ltd and Data Communications Ltd cut charges for Internet Telephony services by between 5% and 50%, also with immediate effect.
The ICT Authority also approved tariffs for new services, namely 3G for Emtel, and wireless Internet Services for Network Plus (Africa Digital Bridges Network Ltd.).
Go to Offshore-e-com.com for an extensive analysis of the commercial possibilities and the legal background for offshore e-commerce.