Syria - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Executive Summary

Syria’s telecom sector of key importance in times of turmoil

Prior to the civil conflict - Syria had installed an extensive fixed-line infrastructure in terms of the number of lines. STE had also deployed equipment to support the delivery of broadband services and increased transmission capacity to provide the requisite bandwidth. While these were positive signs - the current situation in Syria means its telecommunications infrastructure is very vulnerable - making it difficult to see any significant progress ahead for the sector in the near future.

Syria is a country which has been in the midst of civil war for a number of years. This volatile environment is disastrous for Syria’s infrastructure and unfortunately it is the telecommunications networks and equipment which become key targets for attacks by the opposing forces.

Telecoms outages have become common either due to power failures or deliberate shutting down of the systems. This in turn creates havoc for citizens and severely impacts on the countries’ ability to function. There have been a number of times in recent years when the Internet and mobile system in Syria has been shut down with no traffic reported for short periods.

For the citizens of Syria, many who are already considered poor and have been displaced from their homes a number of times – the lack of telecommunication services is a burden in a country where public hospitals, water, food, schools and fuel supplies have all been compromised. A lack of telecoms services also severely hampers on the ability of outreach workers to co-ordinate humanitarian aid efforts.

However the very fact that telecoms services are utility in nature means that the infrastructure is likely to be restored again once fighting ceases and the country stabilises.

Key telecom parameters – 2012; 2014

Sector
2012
2014
Subscribers to telecoms services (million): (e)
Fixed Broadband
0.38
0.342
Fixed-line telephony
4.42
3.98
Mobile phone
12.9
15.5

(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU)

Key developments:

  • Syria has a tightly controlled market where the domestic and international fixed-line market remains under the strict monopoly of the government-owned Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE). STE is currently the sole provider of infrastructure and is responsible for all types of telecommunications, including Internet bandwidth.
  • Syria’s mobile market is served by a duopoly comprised of two operators, MTN Syria and Syriatel.
  • In January 2015, both Syriatel and MTN Syria were awarded long-term freehold licences by the Syrian authorities, valid until December 2034. These replace the previous build, operate and transfer arrangement.

Companies covered in this report include:

Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE), MTN Syria, Syriatel.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive Summary
  • 2. Key statistics
    • 2.1 Country overview
  • 3. Telecommunications market
    • 3.1 The current market
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Historic overview
    • 4.2 Regulatory authority
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Syria
    • 4.4 Interconnect
  • 5. Fixed network operators in Syria
    • 5.1 Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE)
  • 6. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 6.1 National telecom network
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
  • 8. Broadband access market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
      • 8.1.1 Market analysis
      • 8.1.2 Broadband statistics
      • 8.1.3 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) and Fibre-To-The-Home (FttH)
  • 9. Digital economy
    • 9.1 Introduction
    • 9.2 e-Government
    • 9.3 e-Health
    • 9.4 e-Education
    • 9.5 Social media
    • 9.6 Broadcasting
  • 10. Mobile communications
    • 10.1 Market analysis
    • 10.2 Mobile statistics
      • 10.2.1 General statistics
    • 10.3 Mobile voice
      • 10.3.1 Prepaid
    • 10.4 Mobile data
      • 10.4.1 SMS and MMS
    • 10.5 Mobile broadband statistics
    • 10.6 Regulatory issues
      • 10.6.1 Third mobile licence
      • 10.6.2 Current BOT contracts/Long term free hold licenses
    • 10.7 Mobile infrastructure
      • 10.7.1 GSM, 3G
      • 10.7.2 Satellite mobile
  • 11. Major mobile operators
    • 11.1 Operators
      • 11.1.1 Syriatel
      • 11.1.2 MTN Syria
    • 11.2 Mobile content and applications
      • 11.2.1 m-banking (payments/loans)
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics – Syria
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2014
  • Table 3 – Broadband statistics – Syria - 2013
  • Table 4 – Mobile statistics – Syria - 2014
  • Table 5 – National telecommunications authorities
  • Table 6 – GDP growth and inflation – 2005 – 2015
  • Table 7 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1995 - 2014
  • Table 8 – Fixed Internet subscriptions and households with internet access – 2005 - 2013
  • Table 9 – Fixed broadband subscribers – 2004 - 2013
  • Table 10 – International Internet bandwidth – 2004 - 2014
  • Table 11 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 1999 - 2014
  • Table 12 – Active Mobile Broadband Subscriptions – 2009 - 2014
  • Table 13 – Syriatel – Revenue and Net Profit – 2005 - 2013
  • Table 14 – MTN Syria Revenue and CAPEX – 2009 - 2014
  • Table 15 – MTN Syria – Subscribers, ARPU and MOU – 2009 - 2014

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