Libya Telecoms and Broadband service expanding at steady pace considering new telecoms law


In post-rebellion Libya, the telecoms are up and working and more fiber optic linkages are being established to improve efficiency, but policy makers want to see the telecoms entities devolve from state ownership to private companies.

In an interview with Marcopolis, the CEO of LTT (Libya Telecom and Technology, the first and main Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Libya, started in 1997), Husam Abulhul said of the Internet sector: "We are focusing on the mass market; we have two main services here: WiMAX and ADSL. We are expanding these two services over the whole of Libya. We have almost 200,000 subscribers for WiMAX and almost 100,000 subscribers for ADSL. It is my target and the target of the Ministry of Communications to increase the number of internet subscribers in Libya by another 300,000 based on our network capacity. We are close to achieving 400,000 new subscribers, which will increase the internet penetration in the country from 5 percent to 15 percent, and this is our target."

As to when further liberalisation will take place, the LTT had added, "Very soon, the Ministry of Communications has offered 22 new licenses. We are helping this ISP to provide the service by providing them with broadband units. So we will be the wholesale for these ISPs."

Abulhul noted that the status quo in terms of pricing, "The price is acceptable to the customers. The price of ADSL is 20 Libyan dinars per month and the price of WiMAX is 30 Libyan dinars per month, which is acceptable with regard to the Libyan market."Mobile services Libya

Despite having an old style state-owned monopoly for the country's telecoms and Internet, Libya's telecommunications infrastructure is superior to those in the majority of other African countries. Also, services are available at more affordable rates compared with elsewhere in the continent.

Libya has a fixed-line teledensity that is one of the highest in Africa, which was brought about through an extensive rollouts of CDMA-2000 wireless local loop technology during the Gaddafi regime in 2006. Initially the mobile sub-sector was underdeveloped with Al-Madar as the exclusive cell operator until the establishment of Libyana as a second GSM network in 2004. This sent mobile market penetration rocketing, going from being one of the lowest in Africa to one of the highest on the continent in the space of two years.

Libya became was the first country in Africa to reach 100 percent mobile penetration in 2008. While both mobile networks are state-owned enterprises (SOEs) they provide distinct and different service offerings. Also, the mobile companies are engaged in the Net and broadband sector with by providing mobile data services.