A Swift Rise
The telecom industry of the country is on a significant rise, even eyeing to launch 3G services soon
Afghanistan, the landlocked country located in the center of Asia, comprises of a population of 29 mn. The telecom industry of the country has significantly shot up after the fall of Taliban and with the total teledensity reaching 65%, the growth which the telecom industry has encountered is really praiseworthy. As the operators and the regulators of the country are planning to launch 3G services as soon as possible, the war-torn nation is sure to emerge as a hot-spot for the telecom industry.
The total number of the mobile subscribers in the country reached 17.5 mn as of June 2011. The operators and regulators of the country are seeking a way to deploy 3G or even 4G services in the country. The country has 4 mobile operators—afghani-
stan Wireless Communications Company, Roshan, MTN, and Etisalat.
Afghan Wireless, incorporated in 2002, was the first mobile operator in the country with Ehsan Bayat as the chairman of the organization. The operator boasts of its country-wide network and is the only one to reach that milestone. The operator provides its services in both post and prepaid format with many beneficiary offers for the subscribers like Yak Bar se, Friends and Family—which provides calling on selected numbers at low charges, Jawanan—an affordable scheme for youth of the country, night talk, etc.
The operator, on the VAS front, provides services like—caller ringback tone (CRBT) with a list of songs varying from holy Islamic content to foreign pop songs; Islamic portal, which upon dialing 786 provides namaaz procedure and information about the religion; contests and quizzes, enabling the customers with a chance to win prizes; SMS, GPRS, and bulk SMS, a tool for corporate subscribers with which they can reach to a number of people simultaneously at low costs.
The operator, with 20% stake of the government, also provides Blackberry services enabling the business community of the country to access, compose, and forward emails using Blackberry push delivery. The roaming facility of the company is available across 340 networks in 102 countries worldwide.
Roshan started its operations in the country in 2003 and holds a subscriber base of over 5 mn with its network covering 230 cities in all the provinces of the country. The operator on the voice front offers services like call management, missed call notification, voice mail, caller ID, call waiting, call hold, call forwarding, etc.
The operator provides Blackberry services as well and was the first one to provide m-paisa in the country, providing the majority of the population with safe and secure range of mobile financial services. The other operator, MTN, was the second company to receive the GSM license in the country in July 2006 through its legal entity Areeba and was later renamed to MTN in 2008. The operator’s network has
AFSAT got incorporated in 2007 and provides services including wireless internet, shared services, and satellite coverage maps
its presence in 30 provinces, covering 18 mn people of the country.
The company provides numerous beneficiary services like MTN play, offering the consumers access to contents like games, music, videos, etc; MMS; GPRS; ME2U, an SMS based credit transfer service allowing transfer of credit from one mobile to other; CRBT; voice mail, etc, in prepaid and postpaid format.
Etisalat Afghanistan is a 100% owned subsidiary of Etisalat UAE. The company flagged off its operations in the country in 2007 and has invested $300 mn till date, doubling its revenue every year.
The operator provides its services in 182 districts of the country and has 12,000 retail outlets. The Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) has even signed a deal with the company to provide services in the rural and remote areas of the country. The company has tied up with 120 operators in 80 countries to provide roaming services to its subscribers. The company provides smart devices like tablets including ipad, Galaxy tab, Blacberry playbook, and Dell Streak 5 with its postpaid plans.
In the VAS segment, the company provides services like credit transfer, voice mail, caller ring back tunes, music on call, SMS, data and internet, and international prepaid recharge which enables the users to recharge the cell phones of their friends or family visiting another country.
The total number of landline subscriptions in the country stands at 0.07 mn at the end of June 2011, which is quite low, but has increased minutely compared to what the number was in March 2011.
Afghan Telecom Corporation, incorporated in 2006, is the only operator providing fixed phone services in the country. The company’s voice services include district communication network (DCN), which provides both voice and internet services for the people in isolated regions; village communication network (VCN),
providing voice and data services in the remote areas of the country.
Afghan Telecom also provides its fixed phone services in prepaid format by the name Digiphone, with which the users can make local as well as international calls. The company also offers payphone service in the city of Kabul. The landlocked country has 6 internet service providers including AFSAT, Neda Telecommunications, Ceretechs.com, Insta Telecom, Io Global Services, RANA Technologies, and Liwalnet.
AFSAT got incorporated in 2007 and provides services including wireless internet, shared services, and satellite coverage maps. The company even provides networking equipments like routers, modems, dish antennas, etc.
Neda Telecommunications started off its operations in 2003 with dial-up services and now provides broadband internet services in almost every major city of the country through wireless, VSAT, dial-up, and CDMA. The company’s list of solutions include wireless, Wimax, VSAT network, and IT solutions. The internet service providers have recently introduced an online payment platform for the organization.
Ceretechs.com started providing the internet services in 2002 and got the
Insta Telecom provides services including DSL cable internet, wireless broadband internet services, VSAT, and VPN solutions
tag of being the first ISP of the country. The company provides services like broadband wireless connectivity (BWA), web services, LAN and WAN installation, power protection, and internet services with their speed ranging from 32 KB to 36 Mbps. The company even provides solutions like Voice over IP solutions and software development.
Insta Telecom provides services including DSL cable internet, wireless broadband internet services, VSAT, and VPN solutions. The company’s clients list includes organizations like Government of Afghanistan, coalition forces like NATO, Embassies, NGOS, etc.
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Global Services offers VSAT, wireless based broadband internet access, VNO, and managed services to large corporate banks, SMES, and homes in the country. The company’s list of technology partners comprises of organizations like Iostar, a satellite based service platform company; REACH, a carrier of combined voice, IPL, and IP data services; Viasat, a company dealing in satellite and other wireless communication products, etc.
RANA technologies, with its corporate office in the capital city of Kabul, provides broadband internet services through VSAT, Wimax, and BGAN (broadband global area network). The company even provides after-sales technical services of technology giants including Cisco, Xerox Harris, Polycom, Siemens, Mobotix, and HID Global. The internet service is also provided to the US military in the country by the company.
The ISP Liwalnet is a subsidiary of Liwal and provides various services in the country like satellite internet, digital TV service, distance learning services, etc. The internet service provider even offers domain and hosting services to organizations in the country. The company deals in network products of companies including 3Com, Cisco systems, HP, and Intel.
It seems the country, after the destruction, is rising up again like a Phoenix. The teledensity of 65% and the emergence of numerous operators providing beneficiary services to the country residents reflect that the nation will be a paradise for investors in the coming future.