The Afghanistan Telecoms Regulatory Authority (ATRA) has fined the country’s five main operators a total of AFN1.2 billion (USD15.7 million) for falling short of quality of service (QoS) standards.
Afghan Telecom (Aftel), Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC), Etisalat Afghanistan, MTN Afghanistan and Roshan have all fallen afoul of the regulator, although no timeframe for the fines was disclosed.
Despite the QoS fines, ATRA highlighted the operators’ efforts, noting that as of December 2019, they had collectively deployed 7072 sites delivering coverage to 90% of Afghanistan’s population via a total investment of AFN183 billion.
The regulator also conceded that while the fines were appropriate, the market presents significant challenges for maintaining networks and improving QoS. These include insurgent groups destroying infrastructure and cutting fibre lines as well as the “unlimited use of jammers by government authorities, foreign troops and individuals.”
Additionally, the regulator noted that Afghanistan’s limited fibre backbone and spectrum distribution restrictions also make it hard operators to achieve higher QoS standards – but it was clear in saying that penalties would be issued to any operators that failed to meet their licence terms.