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Etisalat first to be awarded Afghanistan 3G licence

20 марта 2012

Etisalat has become the first mobile operator in Afghanistan to be awarded a 3G licence.

Pajhwok Afghan News reported on Sunday that the operator was awarded its licence, for which it paid $25 million, at a ceremony held in the capital Kabul. Telecommunication and Information Technology minister Amirzai Sangin said Etisalat Afghanistan will begin offering 3G services from next month, extending network coverage to all areas of the country over the next two years.

Etisalat did not disclose how much of the country its new network will cover at launch; however, its 2G service is currently available in 30 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, and 180 towns including 21 major cities, such as Kabul and regional capitals Herat and Sari Pul. Pricing details were also not disclosed.

"We are proud to be the first to launch 3G services in Afghanistan as this shall certainly spur a new era of advanced development in Afghanistan while positively impacting every aspect of people's lives," said Etisalat Afghanistan CEO Ahmed Alhosani, in a statement.

Etisalat said it has invested $300 million in its Afghan operations since launching in 2007, and currently serves more than 3.5 million active subscribers.

"Etisalat has always pioneered an impressive series of telecommunications and industry first services and products in challenging environments," said Alhosani. "We consider ourselves a change agent in the future of economic development in the most dynamic regions."

The UAE-based telco group's Afghan unit competes with no fewer than five other players: MTN Afghanistan, Afghan Wireless, Afghan Telecom, Roshan and CDMA operator Wasel.

According to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), there were 17.7 million mobile subscribers in Afghanistan at the end of December 2011, comprised of 17.6 million GSM customers and 134,000 CDMA customers.

The Afghan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) launched a 3G tender in July with the aim of providing a licence to a new entrant. The rules also allowed the country's existing operators to upgrade their licences by matching the winning bid.

In November three bidders emerged: Sahar 3G, Toseye Eatemad Mobin, and Shezai Tel USA. The ATRA said at the time that a winner would be announced upon completion of its technical assessment. The winner has yet to be announced.

Rival players Roshan, Afghan Wireless, MTN Afghanistan and Afghan Telecom are due to receive their 3G licences in the coming weeks, according to Pajhwok, bringing the total raised in the auction up to $150 million.

Источник: Total Telecom

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