Plan to Upgrade Mobile Network.Ministry of Telecommunications

The Ministry of Telecommunications unveiled a $110M plan to upgrade and modernize the mobile phone network in Lebanon in order to improve the low quality of cellular services. It said that the National Quality of Services plan will be completed in 8 months, but that related improvements will start emerging after two or three months of the starting date.
It added that it signed the necessary investment decisions that would allow the two mobile operators to proceed with the required investments. The two mobile phone networks in Lebanon are owned by the state and are operated by private firms MTC Touch and Alfa based on a management contract.
The Ministry pointed out that the first phase of the plan was based on a technical and geographic survey to determine the cellular networks' weaknesses. It added that the weaknesses were identified in both densely populated areas and remote areas where the network coverage is weak or even non-existent. As such, the Ministry noted that it will buy 400 E1200 antenna stations to be installed in areas with poor reception, and that it will purchase 20 mobile stations that will provide a backup support, especially in the densely populated areas such as the capital.
It added also that it plans to buy 120 repeaters that would address the problem of illegal equipments used by some subscribers to strengthen reception from their place of residence or work, which leads to poor network quality. It indicated that the illegal equipment will be eventually replaced by those installed by the two mobile operators under the supervision of the Ministry. Further, the Ministry indicated that the plan stipulates the establishment of a national roaming service that would allow subscribers to automatically move from one network to the other in case of poor reception across Lebanon.
Lebanon had 68 mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2010, below the global average of 78 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants and the Arab average of 88 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. Also, Lebanon ranked in 144th place among 210 countries at the end of 2010 in terms of mobile cellular penetration. It also came in 15th place among 20 Arab countries and ranked in 43rd place among 46 upper middle income countries. Lebanon This Week, Byblos Bank's economic publication. 2011


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