Lebanon’s fiber-optic network is functioning and has been extended to large institutions, Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb said.
“Following the installation of fiber-optics in big cities we will be linking this service to buildings and households,” he said at a conference Thursday at the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut.
When Harb became minister in 2014, the country’s fiber-optic backbone connecting major switchboards to each other and large institutions was already largely complete. However, work was reportedly stopped at the new minister’s initiative.
At Thursday’s conference, Harb said that the current installation of fiber-optics is part of the 2020 strategy he launched in July of last year. According to that plan, fiber-optic networks are to be installed in Lebanon progressively over five years and the country totally connected by fiber by 2020.
Harb also disclosed some new statistics with regard to subscribers in the fixed and mobile phone lines.
He said the number of subscribers to fixed phone lines reached around 1 million in 2015 compared to 870,465 in 2013, while the number of subscribers to mobile phone lines increased to around 4.5 million in 2015 from 3.8 million in 2013.
The number of DSL subscribers increased to 537,135 in 2015 from 318,750 in 2013, while Internet services providers now number 112.
The minister added that data subscribers using mobile phones increased to 2.8 million in 2015 from 2 million in 2013.
Among other statistics provided by Harb was the number of Ogero’s points of sale, which reached 63 in 2015 compared to 44 in 2013.
“The number of switchboard centrals that are equipped with VDSL reached 78 in 2015 while they were nonexistent in 2013,” he said, adding that number of subscribers with ‘fiber to the curb’ service stood at 8253 in 2015. “FTTC services were also unavailable in 2013,” he said.
For his part, Taleb al-Fakih, head of the third branch of the Order of Engineers and Architects, said that studies have shown that any increase in broadband connection by 10 percent contributes to increased GDP.
He added that the telecom sector proved to be very efficient in improving the performance of the various economic sectors while curbing expenditures in the long run, in addition to minimizing immigration and creating new job opportunities.
Fakih called upon the government to decrease prices of Internet services, saying that its cost in Lebanon is the highest among other countries in the world. “We should also work on appointing a new Telecommunications Regulatory Authority,” he said.
Khaled Shehab, head of the order, said that the syndicate is ready to provide telecom engineers with all needed facilities in a bid to serve the national interest of the country.
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