Tunisia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in February 1997 and committed to opening its telecommunications market for foreign investment and competition by 2004. For the past two years, the state-owned Tunisie Telecom has been trying to prepare for the changing landscape, especially with impending competition in the GSM market.
In January 2000, the Tunisian GSM (global system for mobile communications) market was opened for investment and competition. However, due to stringent legal and financial requirements by the government, the licensing of a second GSM operator besides that of Tunisie Telecom’s only came recently in March 2002. The second operator is yet to launch service.
This delay allowed Tunisie Telecom to enhance investments in its GSM network, providing a larger coverage of its services, added features and the ability to cope with a larger subscribers base, according a newly released report from the Arab Advisors Group.
During this time the Tunisian communications market experienced a significant jump in the number of subscribers in the cellular market and a significant growth of the fixed mainlines installed.
“Cellular subscribers of Tunisie Telecom have increased from 119,075 in 2000, to 389,208 in 2001 and 404,202 in March 2002. Thus, increasing the penetration rate from 1.2 percent in 2000 to 4.01 percent in 2001. The majority of the increase in it’s the subscribers base was as a result of the introduction of prepaid service,” the Arab Advisors Group analyst noted.
The report has showed that in the fixed telephone network infrastructure, Tunisie telecom has been expanding its infrastructure reaching a ratio of 15.21 lines per 100 inhabitants in March 2002, compared with a 9.53 lines per 100 inhabitants in 1999. Most recently in December 2001, Tunisie Telecom had signed an agreement with Alcatel for a fixed network expansion.
“The network expansion will be adding 100,000 new telephone lines to the existing network to be operational by mid-2002, the expansion in the scope of services provision and the availability of its services ensures a greater subscribers base”, the report added. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )