As a prelude to digital media establishment it would be incumbent to consolidate the mobile network sector as it grants access to the Internet. The instability in the country has affected the telecommunication sector in the sense that most outlets are owned externally and therefore dependent upon foreign investment.
The main telecommunication operations are MTN, Sudani (ie , a Sudatel mobile unit), and Zain. There are also about 9 other providers for different telecommunication services including a bill collection company, however, all are regulated by the National Telecommunications Corporation (NTC)
Sudan’s telecommunication infrastructure is equipped and comparable to other countries in the region. The country has most of the needed services such as a national fiber optical backbone, wireless fixed-line networks, but very limited fiber-to-home connections.
Zain is a Kuwaiti company and operates in eight countries across the Middle East including Sudan. The regime, however, maintains its influence over the company’s operations in Sudan by securing the placement of its supporters and formal military personnel as part of the Zain management team. The company is having sustained growth in the country and revenues have steadily increased. In 2016 with the introduction of 4G service Zain increased its total number of customers to 12.5 million, the highest number of mobile users among all the providers in the country.
The close ties of the Zain Company with the regime facilitates its operations in the country and has also enabled it to increase the gap against its other competitors (ie , MTN and Sudani). While Zain was reporting increased profits, MTN indicted a loss in 2016 and announced its subscribers had decreased by 13.0 percent to 7.7 million.
Although it is easy to find the annual financial reports for the foreign investors such as MTN and Zain, there was no record or information about the Sudani company performance at its official website. The company’s report published by external sources under the company group Sudatel indicates that the Sudatel telecom group reported profits is $47m with 11.7 million subscribers 2016. This figure places the company second after Zain in terms of subscribers in the country.
The government has control over the connectivity and can block all of the Internet gateways in the country when the National Intelligence Security Service - NISS wants to slow down or block access to the Internet. There are frequent interruptions of the gateways and blockings of YouTube and the Freedom House has documentation of the incidents that happened in 2016 when connections were blocked for a period of time lasting for more than 13 hours.