The online publishing company, MarcoPolis, interviewed Alfa CEO Marwan Hayek in June (not sure why the interview was published in late September) on the mobile industry in Lebanon. It’s quite an extensive interview but here are some of the key points that came out of it:
- Alfa and their parent company Orascom Telecom are very optimistic on the future of the mobile industry in Lebanon; they are happy with the current Minister of Telecommunications and his team.
- The implementation of 3G+ and HSPA+ technology finally put Lebanon on par with most of the Middle East. Plans are in place to roll-out 4G in 2013 though there are infrastructure issues. Limited 4G and LTE deployment may take place by the end of 2012.
- In June 2012, mobile penetration in Lebanon was 85%. Hayek believes that it will hit 90% by December and will clear 100% in 2013. Alfa expects penetration to reach 150% by 2015.
- 25% of Alfa’s customers (450,000) are subscribed to a 3G+ data package. 3G+ prices are high in Lebanon though price reductions are expected soon.
- Based on information from the Ministry of Telecommunications, Lebanon’s international bandwidth has increased by ten folds since 2011. Hayek considers the current capacity levels to be “sufficient”.
- The major problem the company faces is infrastructure; high-speed internet and mobile broadband require fiber optic networks and those are only available mostly along the major coastal cities. Fiber optic expansion is currently underway and will be completed by the end of the year or early 2013. In the meantime, Alfa are using microwave links to provide 3G+ services to remote areas.
- No new developments in terms of privatization; no one is talking about it.
So it seems things are looking rosy for mobile users in Lebanon.