Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb will launch on July 1 a five-year national telecommunications strategy in a bid to boost the performance of the sector in Lebanon. “It will take five years to complete the strategy but citizens will see a positive difference in the performance of the sector within the first three months of the project’s initiation,” he said.
Harb explained that the new strategy includes a plan to provide Lebanon with a fiber-optic network and 4G services to cover the whole Lebanese territory.
He explained that a fiber-optic network already exists in Lebanon but only connects centers together for the time being. “What we will be doing next is connecting fiber-optic cables to the home,” he said.
“Fiber to the home” is the delivery of a communications signal over optical fiber cables from the operator’s switching equipment all the way to a home or business, thereby replacing existing copper infrastructure such as telephone wires and coaxial cables.
FTTH is a relatively new and fast growing method of providing much higher bandwidth to consumers and businesses, thereby enabling more robust video, Internet and voice services.
Fiber-optic Internet can go up to 100 Mbs, compared to copper, which is 8 Mbs at best.
“The project will be fully financed from the Telecommunications Ministry budget,” he said.
Harb explained that around 75 percent of problems facing citizens when it comes to Internet connectivity is due to malfunction in the copper cables linking their computers to the buildings they live in.
“For this purpose, we will be appointing around 30 technicians dedicated to receiving complaints from citizens to solve their Internet problems within 24 hours,” he said. “We will also launch an awareness campaign to draw the attention of citizens to the real causes behind their connection problems in order to stop blaming the ministry.”
Harb also said the ministry would soon launch a new mobile operator tender as part of a plan to revamp the telecoms sector.
The Cabinet extended until the end of 2015 the existing management contracts for the country’s two state-owned mobile networks, currently managed under short-term renewable contracts by Kuwait’s Zain Group (under the touch brand) and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT, under the Alfa brand).
“We will be giving a chance for new companies to enter the tender and we will grant the new companies a contract for three years until privatization takes place. We need new companies to come and provide better services to citizens,” he added.
By Dana Halawi
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