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Tunisia’s MNOs prep for commercial LTE launch
Tunisia has developed one of the most sophisticated telecommunications and broadband infrastructures in North Africa. The country market penetration rates for mobile and internet services is among the highest on the continent’s, while regulatory measures and improved international bandwidth capacity has also meant that consumers benefit from relatively low prices.
The events of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolution in 2011 drove the country into a brief recession, but GDP growth soon returned to pre-crisis levels. This encouraged growing confidence in economic recovery, although GDP growth in 2015 was expected to have fallen to only 1%. Political difficulties in recent years have also had an impact on the telecom sector, notably causing the delay in the sale of EIT’s 35% interest in Tunisie Telecom, the country’s fixed-line incumbent which offers a full range of services. despite this, the government in 2016 is pressing on with plans to list its 65% stake in Tunisie Telecom on the Tunis stock exchange, in part to help the company raise funds to enable it to pursue its expansion plans, notably by acquiring the Maltese quad-play operator GO.
The mobile sector has experienced exceptional growth since the introduction of a second GSM network in 2002, operated initially by Egypt’s Orascom under the name Tunisiana and now by Qatar Telecom (Qtel) which rebranded it to Ooredoo. Orange Group entered the market as the third operator in 2010 and launched Tunisia’s first commercial 3G mobile service, followed by Tunicell in 2011 and Tunisiana in 2012. HSPA+ services are now widely available. In March 2016 the regulator accepted bids from all three MNOs for LTE licenses. Extensive LTE trials have been carried out since late 2015, and a commercial launch is anticipated later in 2016. The MNOs published their LTE tariffs in July 2016.
Ooredoo and Orange Tunisie are also licensed as fixed-line operators and have launched DSL and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) services. In addition, a dozen public and private ISPs compete in this sector, supported by a nationwide fibre optic backbone network and international access via submarine and terrestrial fibre.
A reform of the country’s Telecommunications Act was initiated in 2013 and government internet censorship was officially abolished. In addition, laws supporting e-commerce and digital signatures have been passed, which has led to one of the most active e-government and e-commerce sectors in Africa.
Ooredoo Tunisia, Tunisie Telecom and Orange Tunisia have bids for LTE spectrum accepted by the regulator; Number Portability introduced after much delay; Orange Tunisia launches ‘MBC shahid plus’ IPTV/VoD service; Ooredoo Tunisia and Tunisie Telecom begin RAN sharing network build; government announces plan to list its 65% stake in Tunisie telecom on the Tunis stock exchange; MVNO Lycamobile sees strong subscribers growth into 2016; Tunisian public Wi-Fi pilot begins; FttP and VDSL2 vectoring services launched, offering data at up to 100Mb/s; X-Labs develops mesh Wi-Fi networks; Didon submarine cable makes landing in Tunisia and is lit for services to Sicily and beyond; reform of Telecommunications Act initiated; government’s censorship of the internet abolished; 3G mobile broadband growth outshines fixed-line broadband; report updates include the regulator’s market data to April 2016, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q2 2016, recent market developments.
|Mobile SIM (population)||131%|
Tunisie Telecom (Tunicell), Orange Tunisie, Ooredoo (Tunisiana, Orascom, Wataniya, Qatar Telecom/Qtel), Planet Tunisie, 3S GlobalNet, HexaByte, Tunet, Topnet, Divona Telecom, Thuraya, Nokia Networks, Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson.