Afghan Telecom Company to Offer 3G, GSM Services

• Category: Afghanistan
KABUL (Pajhwok Afghan News, Weda Baraki) – The state-owned Afghan Telecom Company will provide GSM communications and 3G services to cover the remaining 15% of the country’s population, an official said on Tuesday.

Three private companies, which received 3G licence from the ministry, are yet to offer the services in insecure areas, Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology Amirzai Sangin declared at a news conference in Kabul. However, the Afghan Telecom Company would bridge the gap in the near future, he promised, after signing a contract to the effect with a Chinese company. The agreement is worth US $32 million (1.7 billion afghanis).

According to Sangin, under the contract, the Chinese firm would provide 3G and GSM equipment. Some 700 telecommunication towers would be installed in various parts of the country, including areas where population still lacks the services. The move will facilitate 24-hour internet services. Currently, there are 4760 of such towers in service.

Sangin said the company would start providing 3G and GSM services in major provinces from March 21, and cover the whole country gradually. Currently, 85% of Afghanistan’s population has access to telecom services and over 18% use mobile phones.

Afghan Telecom offers fixed line, wireless voice and data services under a 25 years licence. The company was previously owned by the government and operated until 2005 when the Ministry of Communications spun it off into a private entity.

There are about 18 million GSM mobile phone subscribers in Afghanistan as of 2009, with over 75,000 fixed-telephone-lines and little over 190,000 CDMA subscribers. Mobile communications have improved because of the introduction of wireless carriers into this developing country. The first was Afghan Wireless, which is US based that was founded by Ehsan Bayat. The second was Roshan, which began providing services to all major cities within Afghanistan. There are also a number of VSAT stations in major cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazari Sharif, and Jalalabad, providing international and domestic voice/data connectivity. The following is a partial list of mobile phone companies in the country:

  •     Afghan Wireless
  •     Roshan
  •     Etisalat
  •     MTN Group