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Services by Sector: Communication Services

 

A. OVERVIEW OF COMMUNICATION SERVICES IN LAO PDR

Background Information

The communications services sector as classified by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), comprises three main sub sectors:

  • Audiovisual services
  • Postal and courier, express mail services
  • Telecommunications

Audiovisual services cover a range of services including motion picture and video tape production and distribution services, motion picture projection services, radio and television services, radio and television transmission services, and sound recording.[1] Globally, the WTO has recorded dynamic growth in this sub sector in recent years, which can be largely attributed to technological developments and innovation. This has facilitated the provision of higher volumes and quality content to consumers. [2]

Postal and courier services include express delivery services and represent a core component of the international communications infrastructure.   Telecommunications on the other hand represents the largest contributory pillar in the communications services sector. The WTO notes that globally the telecommunications services sector contributes over US$ 1.5 trillion in total global revenue. Mobile services represent the largest share of these services accounting for roughly 40 per cent of the telecommunications services. The advancements witnessed in this sector have largely been attributed to the liberalization of the sector internationally and the introduction of competition, thus removing the monopoly power that once existed in many countries. [3]

In the Lao PDR, the services under the communications services sector covers all the three main areas as identified by the WTO, with telecommunications representing the most prolific of the three.  The government of the Lao PDR continues to focus on the development of this sector given its connectivity importance.

B. KEY IMPERATIVES AND INFORMATION FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS AND INVESTORS

  1. Legal and Regulatory Environment of the Communication Services Sector

The legal and regulatory environment of the communications services sector comprises institutional and legal frameworks, which seek to regulate the services provided.

  1. Regulatory Entities governing the Communication Services Sector

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications represents the principal Ministerial authority with responsibility for the regulation of this services sector. Other entities, which assist in regulating this sector, include:

  • Post and Telecommunications Division in Provinces

 Other entities jointly assist in ensuring the service providers under this sector act in accordance with national laws and international standards.  Some key legislative instruments and other documents which govern and regulate this sector are presented below.

  1. Legislation (Laws and Regulations)  governing the Communications Services Sector

Relevant legislations which impact the Communications Services Sector include:

PRIMARY LEGISLATION

SECONDARY LEGISLATION

Decisions

Instructions

Decrees

Other

Laws

Decision on Installation of the Mobile Network Base Station 209/PMT

Instruction on Development and ICT Application in Lao PDR 14/PLPRP

Decree on Radio Frequency 60/Gov

Final Sector Assessment Report Compliance with Trade Commitments and the Implementation of Regulatory Best Practice in the Telecommunications Sector

 

Law on Cyber Crime 61/NA

Decision on safety of radio frequency 208/MPT

Decree on Internet Data Management 327/Gov

Law on Telecommunications (Amended) 09/NA

Decision on Internet Services Business Licensing 2530/MPT

Decision on Services Fees Reduction  for Radio Frequency Usage  450/PMO.MPT

Postal Law (Amended) 45/NA

Decision on Post Services Business Licensing 2555/MPT

Decree on Management of Internet Usage 164/Gov

Publishing Law 05/NA

Decision on Satellite Communications 2507/MPT

Decree on Activities of Foreign Media in Lao PDR

 

 

Media Law (Amended) 01/NA

Decision on Telephone, Internet Services Rates, and Principle Governing Sales Promotion 2744/MPT

Library Law 012/NA

Decision on  Telecommunication Business Licensing 221/MPT

Decision on Data Centre Licensing 590/MPT

Decision on Interconnection of Telecommunication107/MPT 

Decision on Telephone Numbering Management 023/MPT

Decision on Competition of Telecommunication 019/MPT

Decision on Services Rates for Telecommunication Number and Internet Domain Usage 992/PMO.MPT

Decision on Internet Café Services 828/MPT

 

Decision on Management and Usage of Internet and Its Domain Name of Lao PDR 164/Gov

 

 

Lao PDR Commitments in Communication Services under Regional and International Agreements

Key agreements that the Lao PDR has signed in respect of the communications services sector are the:

  • WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services

  • ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (9TH Package of Commitments)

  • ASEAN – Australia/New Zealand Free Trade Agreement

  • Agreement on the Movement of Natural Persons Agreement

  • ASEAN – India Agreement on Trade in Services

WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services

Under the ASEAN- Australia/New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, the Government of Lao did not impose any limitations on national treatment and market access for modes 2 and 3 for:

  • Voice telephone service - CPC 7521

  • Telegraph services - CPC 7522

  • Facsimile services - CPC 7529

No commitments were made for these services sub sectors in respect of mode 1.

As it relates to:

  • Telex services - CPC 7523**

  • Electronic-mail - CPC 7523**

  • Voice mail - CPC 7523**

  • Online information and data base retrieval - CPC 7523**,

no commitments were made for the supply of services under mode one, both in respect of market access and national treatment. In relation to mode 2, no commitments were made in regard to national treatment, while for mode 3, there are no limitations on national treatment.

In relation to market access, no limitations have been placed on the supply of services under mode 2, but only Joint venture with Lao services providers is allowed and only through acquisition of existing operators, for mode 3.

For Public pay phone services - CPC 75211 and Electronic message and information services - CPC 75232, no commitments were made in respect of provision of services under mode 1, while no limitations were placed on market access and national treatment for the supply of services under mode 2.  Specific to mode 3, no limitations were placed on market access, but no commitments were made in respect of national treatment, except those horizontally applied.

No limitations on market access or national treatment were made for Data and message transmission services - CPC 7523 and Paging services - CPC 75291.

ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (9TH Package of Commitments)

This Agreement covers:

  • Postal Services (CPC 7511)

  • Courier Services, which covers Multi-modal courier services (CPC 75121)

  • Telecommunication Services

  • Audiovisual services

  • Radio and Television Services

For both postal services and courier services, Lao PDR placed no limitations on market access and national treatment for modes 1, 2 and 3.

Telecommunication services comprise

  • Voice telephone service (CPC 7521)

  • Packet-switched data transmission services (CPC 7523**) (Electronic message and information services (CPC 75232))

  • Circuit-switched data transmission services (CPC 7523**)

  • (Data and message transmission services (CPC 7523)

  • Telex services (CPC 7523**)

  • Telegraph services (CPC 7522)

  • Facsimile services (CPC 7529)

  • Private leased circuit services (CPC 7522**+7523**)

  • Other: Paging services (CPC 75291)

  • Electronic-mail (CPC 7523**)

  • Voice mail (CPC 7523**)

  • Online information and data base retrieval (CPC 7523**)

  • Electronic data interchange(EDI) (CPC 7523**)

  • Enhanced/value-added facsimile services, incl. store and forward, store and retrieve (CPC 7523**)

  • code and protocol conversion

  • On-line information and / or data processing (incl. transaction processing) (CPC 843**)

  • Telecommunication consulting services (CPC 75440)

For these services, Lao PDR placed no limitations on market access and national treatment for modes 1, 2 and 3 (cross border supply of services, consumption abroad and the establishment of commercial presence respectively).

  • Audiovisual Services comprise:

  • Motion Picture and Video tape production and distribution services (CPC 9611)

  • Motion Picture Production (CPC 96112 excl. video tape)

  • Motion Picture Distribution (CPC 96113 excl. video tape)

  • Motion Picture Projection service (CPC 9612)

For these services,

No limitations were placed on market access and national treatment for modes 1 and 2 (cross border supply of services and consumption abroad respectively).

In respect of mode 3 (establishment of a commercial presence), Joint venture, with a minimum of 49% foreign equity share is the limitation placed on market access. As it relates to the limitation placed on national treatment in relation to mode 3, Lao PDR is unbound except for the commitments indicated in the horizontal section.

  • Radio and Television Services (CPC 9613) comprise:

  • Radio Services only for production of radio programmes (CPC 96131)

  • Television Services only for production of TV programmes (CPC 96132)

For these services, no limitation has been placed on market access for modes 1, 2 and 3 (cross border supply of services, consumption abroad and establishment of a commercial presence respectively). In respect of limitations on national treatment, none have been placed in relation to modes 1 and 2. Specific to mode 3, Lao PDR is unbound, except as indicated in the horizontal commitments.

ASEAN – Australia/New Zealand Free Trade Agreement

Under the ASEAN-Australia/New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, the Government of Lao did not impose any limitations on national treatment and market access for modes 2 and 3 for:

  • Voice telephone service - CPC 7521

  • Telegraph services - CPC 7522

  • Facsimile services - CPC 7529

No commitments were made for these services sub sectors in respect of mode 1.

As it relates to:

  • Telex services - CPC 7523**

  • Electronic-mail - CPC 7523**

  • Voice mail - CPC 7523**

  • Online information and data base retrieval - CPC 7523**,

no commitments were made for the supply of services under mode one, both in respect of market access and national treatment. In relation to mode 2, no commitments were made in regard to national treatment, while for mode 3, there are no limitations on national treatment.

In relation to market access, no limitations have been placed on the supply of services under mode 2, but only Joint venture with Lao services providers is allowed and only through acquisition of existing operators, for mode 3.

For Public pay phone services - CPC 75211 and Electronic message and information services - CPC 75232, no commitments were made in respect of provision of services under mode 1, while no limitations were placed on market access and national treatment for the supply of services under mode 2.  Specific to mode 3, no limitations were placed on market access, but no commitments were made in respect of national treatment, except those horizontally applied.

No limitations on market access or national treatment were made for Data and message transmission services - CPC 7523 and Paging services - CPC 75291.

Agreement on the Movement of Natural Persons Agreement

The Agreement further covers the following sub sectors:

  • Postal Services

  • Courier services (CPC 7512)

  • Multi-modal courier services (CPC 75121)

  • Telecommunication services which comprise:

  • Voice telephone services (CPC 7521)

  • Packet-switched data transmission services (CPC 7523**)

  • (Electronic message and information services (CPC 75232))

  • Circuit-switched data transmission services (CPC 7523**)

  • Data and message transmission services (CPC 7523))

  • Telex services (CPC 7523**)

  • Fascimile services (CPC7521**+7529**)

  • Private leased circuit services (CPC 7522**+7523**)

  • Electronic mail (CPC 7523**) Voice mail (CPC 7523**)

  • On-line information and data base retrieval (CPC 7523**)

  • Electronic data interchange (EDI) (CPC 7523**)

  • Enhanced / value-added facsimile services, incl. store and forward, store and retrieve (CPC 7523**)

  • On-line information and/or data processing (incl. transaction processing) (CPC 843**)

  • Other Paging services (CPC 75291)

  • Telecommunication consulting services (CPC 75440)

  • Telegraph services (CPC 7522)

 

Audiovisual services

  • Motion picture and video tape production and distribution services (CPC 9611)

  • Motion Picture Production (CPC 96112 excl. video tape)

  • Motion Picture Distribution (CPC 96113 excl. video tape)

  • Radio and television services (CPC 9613)

  • Radio Services only for production of radio programmes (CPC 96131)

  • Television Services only for production of TV programmes (CPC 96132)

 

In respect of postal services, both in relation to market access and national treatment, Lao PDR is unbound. The supply of Courier services (CPC 7512) is subject only to horizontal commitments.

 

For telecommunications services, these are agreed to be supplied only on a facilities basis, for public use, with regard to local and national long-distance services. 

 

In respect of market access for Voice telephone services (CPC 7521), the provision of this service must be in consistence with the Labour Law and Lao on Promotion and Management of Foreign Investment. As it relates to limitations on national treatment, the horizontal commitments apply.

 

For all other telecommunications services, which include:

  • Packet-switched data transmission services (CPC 7523**)

  • (Electronic message and information services (CPC 75232))

  • Circuit-switched data transmission services (CPC 7523**)

  • Data and message transmission services (CPC 7523))

  • Telex services (CPC 7523**)

  • Fascimile services (CPC7521**+7529**)

  • Private leased circuit services (CPC 7522**+7523**)

  • Electronic mail (CPC 7523**) Voice mail (CPC 7523**)

  • On-line information and data base retrieval (CPC 7523**)

  • Electronic data interchange (EDI) (CPC 7523**)

  • Enhanced/value-added facsimile services, incl. store and forward, store and retrieve (CPC 7523**)

  • On-line information and / or data processing (incl. transaction processing) (CPC 843**)

  • Other Paging services (CPC 75291)

  • Telecommunication consulting services (CPC 75440)

  • Telegraph services (CPC 7522)

 

Lao PDR is unbound, except as stipulated in the horizontal section.

For Audiovisual services, which comprise:

 

  • Motion picture and video tape production and distribution services (CPC 9611)

    • Motion Picture Production (CPC 96112 excl. video tape)

    • Motion Picture Distribution (CPC 96113 excl. video tape)

    • Radio and television services (CPC 9613)

    • Radio Services only for production of radio programmes (CPC 96131)

    • Television Services only for production of TV programmes (CPC 96132)

 

Lao PDR is unbound, except as stipulated in the horizontal section.

ASEAN – India Agreement on Trade in Services

The agreement principally covers Telecommunication Services, which include[1]:

  • Voice telecom services (CPC 7521)

  • Telegraph services (CPC 7522)

  • Facsimile services (CPC 7529)

  • Telex services (CPC 75233**)

  • Electronic-mail (CPC 75233**)

  • Voice mail (CPC 7523**)

  • Online information and data base retrieval (CPC 7523**)

  • Public pay phone services (CPC 75211)

  • Electronic message and information services (CPC 75232)

For Voice telecom services (CPC 7521), Telegraph services (CPC 7522)

and Facsimile services (CPC 7529), Lao PDR placed no limitations on market access and national treatment for modes 1 and 2 (cross border supply of services and consumption abroad respectively). In relation to mode 3 (establishment of a commercial presence), the limitations to be applied must be done consistent with the horizontal section. The same holds true for limitations on national treatment.  In providing these services utilizing mode 4 (movement of natural persons), Lao PDR has limited market access stipulating that this service be provided under this mode consistent with the Labour Law and Law on the Promotion and Management or Foreign Investment. The limitation placed on national treatment is the same as in relation to market access with a further stipulation that these services be provided consistent with the Law on Taxation for this mode.

For Telex services (CPC 75233**), Electronic-mail (CPC 75233**), Voice mail (CPC 7523**) and Online information and data base retrieval services (CPC 7523**), no limitations were placed on market access and national treatment for mode 1. For mode 2, no limitations were placed on market access and in relation to national treatment, Lao PDR is unbound. For mode 3, Joint ventures with Lao services providers are required and can only be undertaken through acquisition of existing operators; this is the limitation placed on market access. Specific to national treatment, Lao PDR is unbound, except as stipulated in the horizontal section. For mode 4, the movement of natural persons, Lao PDR is unbound except as stipulated in the horizontal section.

For Public pay phone services (CPC 75211) and Electronic message and information services (CPC 75232), Lao PDR placed no limitations on national treatment and market access for modes 1 and 2 (cross border supply of services and consumption abroad respectively). For mode 3, Joint venture with Lao services supplier is required and represent the principal limitation placed on market access. In relation to limitations on national treatment, Lao PDR is unbound.  For mode 4 in relation to market access and national treatment, Lao PDR is unbound, except as specified in the horizontal section.   


[1] The sub sectors under telecommunications services can be supplied only on a facilities basis, for public use, with regard to local and national long-distance services