Lebanon's new telecoms minister focuses on fixed network improvements – R&M

Lebanon's new telecoms minister focuses on fixed network improvements – R&M

Significant improvements are planned for Lebanon's fixed network, according to Lebanon's new telecoms minister Jamal Jarrah.

The plans should result in 500,000 new landlines becoming available in 2017, the installation of fibre-optic networks, and faster DSL services. Ogero Telecom is working in conjunction with the government to deploy the planned works.

The improvements will be welcomed by consumers and enterprises alike. Lebanon has trailed behind other countries in the region in almost all aspects of broadband networks and services. ADSL services were not launched until 2007 and broadband has been available at only low speeds and at high prices. This has changed somewhat in the last couple of years with proactive measures being made to reduce prices, but speed is still an issue.

4G services have been available in Lebanon since 2013 but initially the coverage was limited. During 2016 both Touch and Alfa implemented substantial 4G upgrades and expansions, supported by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson. The country’s telecoms minister claimed that at the end of March 2017, 4G coverage reached around 85% of Lebanon’s population. Alfa and Nokia launched Lebanon's first LTE-A network in 2016. It offers higher download speeds of up to 262.5 Mb/s.

The improvements to Lebanon's broadband infrastructure will boost the already flourishing digital economy as well as the start-up culture that has attracted international interest and recognition. The tendering of Lebanon's mobile network management contracts has stalled. In the interim, Kuwait's Zain Group continues to manage Touch Lebanon and Egypt's Orascom continues to manage Alfa.

By the end of 2017 it is expected there will be 85% coverage of fibre-optic networks in Lebanon. The 2020 Telecom Vision project by the MoT will also see improvements in fibre-optic infrastructure with plans for the entire country to be covered by 2020.

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