INTERNET

Libya's wireless web access leap

Libya's only Internet service provider is launching its first commercial wireless network which it says is one of the most advanced in the world. The state-owned firm said only a handful of countries have rolled out the advanced Internet connection known as WiMax on such a wide scale.

Libya Telecom and Technology aims to start with WiMax coverage, including a mobile feature, in 18 cities. The network is meant to be cost effective in the long run and does not depend on often poor conventional wire infrastructure.

Anyone with a simple USB device which can be plugged into a laptop can connect to the Internet within the coverage area of any WiMax tower. The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says six years ago most Libyans depended on Internet cafes to connect to the web, but technology has moved a long way since then.

The new WiMax network, which has a capacity for 300,000 subscribers, will begin taking on business clients from next week and individual customers the week after.

There are an estimated 51,000 broadband subscribers in Libya and some 170,000 still depend on the much slower dial-up internet. Libya Telecom and Technology said the new service would cost US$30 per month - twice the existing cost of broadband - although prices are expected to drop in the long-run. It requires a one-year advance payment of around $400 (£290), including the cost of a USB device.

BBC

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