Lebanon - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Progress ahead for Lebanon’s fixed and mobile broadband markets

Lebanon’s mobile infrastructure has been primarily focused on 2G and 3G networks in recent years. However, this is changing as a result of The Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) launching a “2020 Telecom Vision” initiative in mid 2015. While only around 16% of Lebanon has 4G mobile coverage, both Touch and Alfa were planning to upgrade and expand their 4G networks during 2016. Touch commissioned Huawei and Nokia for the work, while Alfa has also contracted Nokia along with Ericsson.

Improvements in mobile infrastructure will hopefully overshadow stalled development of the tendering of Lebanon’s mobile network management contracts. The government announced in mid 2015 that a tender process would be held for obtaining the contracts and a final decision would be announced in the following September. However various delays and issues regarding tender applications means that decisions regarding the ongoing management of the mobile networks have not been made. In the interim, Kuwait’s Zain Group continues to manage Touch Lebanon and Egypt’s Orascom continues to mange Alfa.

The 2020 Telecom Vision project by the MoT will also see improvements in fibre-optic infrastructure with plans for the entire country to be covered by 2020. Lebanon’s subscriber base for fixed broadband services is growing and in 2016 there are well over half a million subscribers to both DSL and, more recently, Fibre-to-the-Curb (FttC) networks.

Improvements to broadband infrastructure will also boost the already flourishing digital economy in Lebanon. Lebanon has a well developed start-up culture that has attracted international interest and recognition. The digital media sector in Lebanon is also growing strongly, with Lebanon citizens large users of Facebook. However there is some evidence that social media users in Lebanon, as well as the Middle East, are beginning to turn away from services like Facebook and Twitter and transition to mobile messaging applications Whatsapp and Snapchat instead. This is largely due to citizens concerns regarding security and privacy and a general feeling that their online use is being monitored by companies and government alike.

Overall, the ICT sector has grown significantly in Lebanon. With the government supporting and financing the 2020 Telecom Vision project we should see some great progress over the next few years. Infrastructure improvements will not only assist Lebanon in terms of communication delivery, but also grow its mobile data usage, along with its promising start-up culture. The pressure placed upon Lebanon by the influx of refugees may also be assisted by ICT improvements and digital technologies.

Key telecom parameters – 2013; 2016

Sector 2013 2016
Subscribers to telecoms services (million): (e)
Fixed Broadband users 0.48 0.58
Fixed-line telephony 0.86 0.99
Mobile phone 3.88 5.67

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

Key developments:

  • Lebanon’s telecoms market holds a unique position in the Middle East given the level of government involvement. While most incumbents in the region are government owned, within Lebanon, government ownership also extends to the country’s two mobile operators.
  • The mobile operators in Lebanon, Touch and Alfa hold a 54% market share and 46% market share respectively at the end of 2015.
  • The majority of Touch’s mobile subscribers in Lebanon are on pre-paid plans.
  • Mobile payments solutions are beginning to emerge in Lebanon and are being offered by banks and mobile operators alike.
  • The renewed focus on building fibre networks as part of “Telecom Vision 2020” should see Lebanon’s broadband sector improve significantly in the next few years.
  • Mobile broadband has reached over 60% penetration in Lebanon where the majority of citizens own mobile phones.
  • Marketing companies are slowly beginning to see the benefits of digital advertising in Lebanon with just over 5% of advertising spending directed towards this medium in 2015 – a rise from around 3.5% a year earlier.

Companies covered in this report include:

Ogero Telecom, Touch, Alfa Telecom, Cable One, Cedarcom, GlobalCom Data Services (GDS), Pesco Telecom, Sodetel, IDM/Cyberia, TerraNet, Cinemoz, Leap Ventures, MarkaVIP, Telly, ICFlix Media, OSN, Viamobile, PinPay.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
    • 2.1 Country overview
  • 3. Telecommunications market
    • 3.1 Historical overview
    • 3.2 Market analysis
    • 3.3 Recent developments
      • 3.3.1 Telecom Vision 2020
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Background
    • 4.2 Regulatory authority
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Lebanon
    • 4.4 Privatisation
      • 4.4.1 Ogero Telecom
      • 4.4.2 Mobile operators
    • 4.5 Interconnect
  • 5. Fixed network operator
    • 5.1 Ogero Telecom
  • 6. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 6.1 National telecom network
    • 6.2 International infrastructure
      • 6.2.1 Submarine cable networks
  • 7. Broadband access market
    • 7.1 Market analysis
    • 7.2 Broadband statistics
    • 7.3 Broadband subscriber forecasts
      • 7.3.1 Scenario 1 – higher growth
      • 7.3.2 Scenario 2 – lower growth
    • 7.4 Competition issues
      • 7.4.1 Data service providers
      • 7.4.2 ISP market
    • 7.5 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
    • 7.6 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
    • 7.7 Other fixed broadband services
      • 7.7.1 Fixed wireless (WiFi and WiMAX)
      • 7.7.2 Internet via satellite (Ku band services)
  • 8. Digital economy
    • 8.1 Overview
      • 8.1.1 Start-ups in Lebanon
      • 8.1.2 MIEP project
    • 8.2 E-commerce/e-banking
      • 8.2.1 MarkaVIP thriving in the Middle East
    • 8.3 E-government
    • 8.4 E-education
      • 8.4.1 Mobile Learning (m-learning)
      • 8.4.2 PC and Internet penetration
    • 8.5 E-health
      • 8.5.1 Digital technologies assist refugees in Lebanon and the Middle East
  • 9. Digital media
    • 9.1 Advertising
    • 9.2 Videostreaming
    • 9.3 Social media
    • 9.4 Cloud technology
    • 9.5 Music
  • 10. Mobile communications
    • 10.1 Market analysis
    • 10.2 Mobile statistics
      • 10.2.1 General statistics
    • 10.3 Mobile voice
      • 10.3.1 Prepaid
      • 10.3.2 Satellite mobile
      • 10.3.3 Mobile VoIP
    • 10.4 Mobile data
      • 10.4.1 SMS and MMS
      • 10.4.2 OTT messaging services
    • 10.5 Mobile broadband statistics
    • 10.6 Regulatory issues
      • 10.6.1 Overview
      • 10.6.2 Lebanon’s current mobile contracts
      • 10.6.3 Open international tender 2015
    • 10.7 Mobile infrastructure
      • 10.7.1 Digital networks
    • 10.8 IoT and M2M networks
    • 10.9 Major mobile operators
      • 10.9.1 Touch (operated by Zain)
      • 10.9.2 Alfa
  • 11. Mobile content and applications
    • 11.1 m-commerce
    • 11.2 m-banking (payments/loans)
    • 11.3 m-TV
    • 11.4 Apps
    • 11.5 Mobile handsets
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics – Lebanon - 2016
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2016
  • Table 3 – Fixed broadband statistics – 2015
  • Table 4 – Mobile statistics – 2016
  • Table 5 – National telecommunications authorities
  • Table 6 – GDP growth and inflation – 2010 - 2015
  • Table 7 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 2006 - 2016
  • Table 9 – Internet user and penetration estimates – 1995 - 2016
  • Table 10 – Lebanon - broadband subscribers by access technology – 2013; 2015
  • Table 11 – Fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 12 – Household PC penetration – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 13 – Forecast fixed broadband subscribers – higher growth scenario – 2019; 2024
  • Table 14 – Forecast fixed broadband subscribers – lower growth scenario – 2019; 2024
  • Table 15 – Lebanon – total advertising spend and online advertising spend – 2012 - 2015
  • Table 16 - Facebook Stats for Middle East as at July 2015
  • Table 15 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
  • Table 16 – Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2005 - 2016
  • Table 17 – Mobile operators’ market share – 2004 – 1H 2015
  • Table 18 – Active mobile broadband subscriptions – 2011 - 2016
  • Table 19 – Touch prepaid and postpaid subscribers – 2005 - 2015
  • Table 20 – Alfa – subscribers – 2009 - 2015

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