Afghanistan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Mobile subscribers grow at a moderate pace in Afghanistan

Afghanistan continues to be confronted by the challenges. The political and civil stability of the country is a dark cloud hanging over the country; and is a particular threat to the effectiveness of the telecommunications network and the viability of the telecommunications sector.

By 2017 despite the positive signs of a civil society taking shape, the country was still suffering from the ongoing conflict and multiple difficulties in administering the nation. After many years of war and civil strife, an encouraging aspect of the country’s efforts to rebuild has been the considerable success evident in the creating of a functional telecommunications sector virtually from nothing.

Internet penetration in Afghanistan remains very low although has increased significantly over the past five years, increasing from 3% in 2011 to 13% in 2016. Penetration is predicted to increase to over 15% by 2018. Fixed broadband penetration remains very low in Afghanistan at less than 0.1%

Afghanistan has a highly competitive mobile market that continues to flourish despite the background of the ongoing conflict throughout the country. The mobile sector has been boosted by the absence of effective fixed-line alternatives. There are five mobile operators competing in Afghanistan’s telecom sector. Between them they claimed a total of more than 25 million subscribers, with an overall mobile penetration of 80% The market is predicted to grow moderately over the next five years to 2021 increasing to reach penetration of between 86% and 95%.

By 2017, there were over two million 3G mobile broadband subscribers in the country. In mid 2016 the MCIT reduced the cost of international bandwidth by 20%, in a move to lay the groundwork for the introduction of 4G services in the future.

Key developments:

  • ATRA urged mobile providers to introduce biometric verification for SIM registration as soon as possible.
  • SpeedCast partnered with local mobile operator Wasel to roll out connectivity to 200 of the country’s most remote villages
  • ATRA enlisted local ISP Ariana Network Services (ANS) to provide broadband connectivity to 16 universities nationwide.
  • Fixed broadband penetration remains very low in Afghanistan.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Afghan Telecom/Aftel/Salam Telecom/Networks, Afghan Wireless Communications Company/AWCC, Roshan/ Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd (TDCA), Etisalat Afghanistan, MTN Afghanistan, Wasel Telecom, Ericsson, ZTE.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
    • 3.1 Background
    • 3.2 Economy
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market Overview and Analysis
    • 4.2 Historical background
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Overview
    • 5.2 Regulatory authorities
      • 5.2.1 Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA)
      • 5.2.2 Minister of Communications and Information Technology
    • 5.3 Regulatory developments
      • 5.3.1 Framework for emergency telecoms systems
    • 5.4 Number Portability (NP)
    • 5.5 Access
    • 5.6 Mobile
  • 6. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 6.1 Fixed-line statistics
    • 6.2 Optical fibre backbone
    • 6.3 IP infrastructure
    • 6.4 Rural Access
      • 6.4.1 Telecommunication Development Fund (TDF)
      • 6.4.2 Remote Village
    • 6.5 Microwave ring
    • 6.6 International infrastructure
      • 6.6.1 Satellite services
  • 7. Fixed network operators
    • 7.1 Overview
    • 7.2 Afghan Telecom
    • 7.3 Other operators
      • 7.3.1 Afghan Wireless Communications Co (AWCC)
      • 7.3.2 Wasel Telecom
    • 7.4 Other licences
  • 8. Fixed broadband market
    • 8.1 Market overview and analysis
    • 8.2 Statistics
    • 8.3 Forecasts – internet subscribers – 2016; 2018; 2021
    • 8.4 Internet Service Providers (ISP)
  • 9. Digital economy
    • 9.1 e-Commerce
    • 9.2 e-Government
    • 9.3 e-Health
    • 9.4 e-Education
    • 9.5 e-Banking
    • 9.6 Afghanistan National Data Centre (ANDC)
    • 9.7 Other digital services
      • 9.7.1 WiFi hotspots
      • 9.7.2 Internet cafes
      • 9.7.3 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • 10. Mobile communications
    • 10.1 Market Overview and Analysis
    • 10.2 Mobile statistics
      • 10.2.1 General statistics
      • 10.2.2 Operator statistics
    • 10.3 Mobile forecasts
      • 10.3.1 Forecasts – mobile subscribers – 2016;2018; 2021
      • 10.3.2 Forecasts – mobile broadband subscribers – 2016;2018; 2021
    • 10.4 Mobile infrastructure
      • 10.4.1 Introduction
      • 10.4.2 Third Generation (3G)
      • 10.4.3 4G / LTE
    • 10.5 Mobile data services
      • 10.5.1 Mobile banking and m-money
      • 10.5.2 Roshan’s Malomat service
  • 11. Mobile operators
    • 11.1 Overview
    • 11.2 Afghan Wireless (AWCC)
    • 11.3 Roshan
    • 11.4 MTN Afghanistan
    • 11.5 Etisalat Afghanistan
    • 11.6 Salam Telecom (Aftel)
  • 12. Digital Media
    • 12.1 Broadcasting market
      • 12.1.1 Overview
      • 12.1.2 Digitalisation
      • 12.1.3 National broadcasters
      • 12.1.4 Cable TV
  • 13. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Afghanistan – 2016
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2016
  • Table 3 – Internet statistics – 2016
  • Table 4 – Mobile statistics – 2016
  • Table 5 – National telecommunications authorities
  • Table 6 – Afghanistan’s GDP real growth rate – 2006 - 2017
  • Table 7 – Historical - Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity – 1994; 2000 - 2008
  • Table 8 – Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity – 2009 - 2016
  • Table 9 – Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity – wireline v. wireless - 2009 - 2016
  • Table 10 – Afghan Telecom - wireline and wireless subscribers – 2012; 2014 - 2016
  • Table 11 – Historical - Internet users (ITU) – 2002 - 2006
  • Table 12 – Internet users (ITU)– 2007 – 2015
  • Table 13 – Internet users – 2002; 2004; 2006; 2008; 2010 – 2016
  • Table 14 – Historical - Internet subscribers – 2002 - 2004
  • Table 15 – Fixed internet subscribers – 2005 - 2016
  • Table 16 – Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration– 2005 - 2016
  • Table 17 – International internet bandwidth – 2005 - 2016
  • Table 18 – Afghanistan - Facebook users and penetration – 2012; 2015
  • Table 19 – Forecast - fixed internet subscribers – 2016; 2018; 2021
  • Table 20 – Mobile subscribers and annual change – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 21 – 3G mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2013 - 2016
  • Table 22 – Mobile operator and systems
  • Table 23 – Subscribers and Market share by Major Operators – 2016
  • Table 24 – Historical - ARPU by operator – 2008 - 2012
  • Table 25 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2016; 2018; 2021
  • Table 26 – Forecast – mobile broadband subscribers – 2016; 2018; 2021
  • Table 27 – AWCC’s mobile subscribers – 2005 - 2016
  • Table 28 – Roshan’s mobile subscribers – 2005 - 2016
  • Table 29 – MTN’s mobile subscribers – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 30 – MTN’s ARPU – 2011 - 2016
  • Table 31 – Etisalat’s mobile subscribers – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 32 – Key broadcasting statistics
  • Chart 1 - Fixed-line subscribers and teledensity - 2009 - 2016
  • Chart 2 - Mobile subscribers and annual change - 2006 - 2016
  • Exhibit 1 – Awarding of 3G licences – by operator and date
  • Exhibit 2 – Launch of 3G services – by operator and date

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