Algeria: Algérie Télécom launches triple play service


WiMAX services will launch in Algiers, Blida and Boumerdes, and extend to Oran, Constantine, Annaba and Ouargla before the end of 2007, opening the way for IPTV. By Branislav Pekic

The Algerian market is hungry for TV content, as most Algerians prefer to tune into foreign satellite TV channels (mostly in French) rather than watch programs from the state broadcaster, EPTV. However, the market is opening to private players, seeing new digital packages, and IPTV is on the horizon. Algérie Télécom plans to have 500,000 ADSL lines in place by mid-2007, on its way to 3 million lines by the end of 2009. According to CEO Slimane Kheiredine, WiMAX service will fill in gaps in the company's service where it does not offer ADSL and allow it to consider new services such as IPTV. The Algerian national operator is working with foreign partners like BT and Korea Telecom on developing new services. The operator is also deploying an FTTH network from Sagem Communication and is also planning to launch digital terrestrial TV trials.

In theory, French digital pay-TV packages from TPS and Canal Satellite cannot be received in Algeria, but, in reality, the smart-cards are purchased abroad by parents or friends. But the merger between the two French platforms has created problems for Algerian viewers, as the unified platform uses a more secure encryption technology, eliminating the foreign smartcard option.

This new turn of events has helped Saudi-owned ART, the only digital pay-TV operator that officially sells subscriptions in Algeria, which offers 3, 6 and 12 month subscriptions for DZD 3,000 (Algerian Dinars, approximately US$ 42.00), DZD 5,000 (US$69) and DZD 9,000 (US$125).

The only other option is satellite reception of the unencrypted French TV channels such as TF1, M6, France 2, France 5 and France 3.