Libya - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Libya’s telecom sector growth requiring political stability

During the last few years Libya has struggled to rebuild its economy and infrastructure following disruption caused by the civil war and the subsequent political unrest. Much of the telecom infrastructure was destroyed or stolen, including about a quarter of the country’s mobile tower sites. Reconstruction efforts continue to be stymied by political and military disturbances which affect much of the country, while with two opposing administrations, in Tripoli and Tobruk, there is no consensus as to how to rebuild infrastructure on a national scale despite attempts to reach a political solution. Nevertheless, progress is being made in rebuilding infrastructure, and this has resulted in a resurgence in the number of connected fixed-lines as large numbers of the population are again able to access services.

In early 2015 the state telco (along with many other businesses) decamped to Malta, and since then the two rival administrations have fought in the Maltese courts to assume control of the company. The economy, which largely collapsed in 2013 and 2014 with dramatic falls in GDP, showed remarkable growth in 2017 and 2018, though this was based on a very dire base, while growth in 2019 is expected to be a more moderate 4.3%. Although economic uncertainties for some years stymied the ability of telcos to invest in infrastructure, since mid-2018 the incumbent telco LPTIC has carried through with its $1.7 billion investment program, itself a sign of its confidence in the return of social and political stability.

Under the Gaddafi regime, virtually the entire telecom and internet sector was in government hands, with the unique situation wherein three government-owned mobile networks competed against each other. One of these networks, Libyana, was to have been privatised through an IPO in late 2014, though instead elements of the operator’s mobile network were split off to create a separate operator serving the eastern part of the country.

A new Telecommunications Law has been drafted and the government is in the process of establishing an independent regulatory authority. Since the downfall of the old regime, 25 ISPs have already been licensed to compete with the government-owned former monopoly, as well as 23 VSAT operators.

The destruction to telecom infrastructure aside, it remains superior to those in most other African countries. Considerable investment had been made by the former government in a next-generation national fibre optic backbone network. There was considerable expansion of DSL and WiMAX broadband services, and new international fibre connections and upgrades made to existing ones. Libya also had one of Africa’s first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) deployments. The first terabit international fibre optic cable landed in the country in 2010, followed by a second in 2013. Investments into telecommunications infrastructure totalling $10 billion were earmarked for the 15 years to 2020, though given the civil strife in recent years it is difficult to say how much of this has been put into effect.

With one of the highest market penetration rates in Africa, the mobile voice market is supported by some of the lowest tariffs on the continent and one of the highest per capita GDP levels. Opportunities remain in the broadband sector where market penetration is still relatively low. So far, 4G services have only a limited reach and thus the development of mobile broadband has been slow. Fixed-line penetration has fallen significantly because of the war but is also expected to see a renaissance, including fibre, as the demand for very high-speed broadband increases.

Key developments:

  • Al-Madar extends LTE service to Benghazi and Misurata;
  • LTT launches LTE-based fixed broadband network;
  • LPTIC signs $80 million contract with Arabsat to provide satellite broadband services;
  • LPTIC sets out agenda and investment program for coming years;
  • Italy-Libya cable upgraded to support 100Gb/s technology;
  • Central Bank of Libya launches m-payment service with Al-Madar;
  • Ericsson and Nokia Networks contracted to deploy a national mobile broadband network;
  • Alcatel-Lucent signs contract with LITC to build a 1,000km subsea cable system linking Tripoli to Benghazi;
  • Report update includes Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Al-Madar, Libyana, LibyaPhone, Libya Post and Telecommunication Information Technology (LPTIC), General Posts and Telecommunications Company (GPTC), Hatif Libya, Libya International Telecom Company (LITC), Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT), LAP Green Networks, Gateway, Thuraya, Phoenicia Group, Hermes Communications, Wiseband, Bentley Walker, Virtual Dimensions, Ericsson, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Trans-Sahara.

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Regional Africa Market Comparison

    • TMI vs GDP
    • Mobile and mobile broadband
    • Fixed and mobile broadband
  • Country overview

  • Telecommunications market

    • Market analysis
  • Regulatory environment

    • General Authority for Information and Telecommunications (GAIT)
    • Market liberalisation
    • Second national operator (SNO) licence
    • Mobile licence – 2011
  • Mobile market

    • Market analysis
    • Mobile statistics
    • Mobile data
      • SMS and MMS
      • Mobile broadband
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 4G (LTE)
      • 3G
    • Other infrastructure developments
      • Satellite mobile
    • Major mobile operators
      • Al-Madar
      • Libyana
      • LibyaPhone
    • Mobile content and applications
      • Mobile TV
      • M-payment
  • Fixed-line broadband market

    • Introduction and statistical overview
      • Market analysis
      • Broadband statistics
    • Fixed-line broadband technologies
      • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Networks
      • Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
      • Other fixed broadband services
  • Fixed network operators

    • LPTIC/GPTC/Hatif Libya
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
    • National fibre backbone
    • Next Generation Network (NGN)
    • International infrastructure
      • International submarine fibre
      • Satellite
      • LAP Green Networks
  • Appendix – Historic data

  • Related reports

List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities - Libya – 2019 (e)
  • Table 2 – Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration – 2010 – 2024
  • Table 3 – Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers – 2015 - 2024
  • Table 4 – Growth in Al-Madar’s mobile subscriber base – 2013 - 2018
  • Table 5 – Growth in Libyana’s mobile subscriber base – 2013 - 2018
  • Table 6 – Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 7 – Growth in the number of fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2024
  • Table 8 – International bandwidth – 2009 – 2017
  • Table 9 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Libya – 1999 - 2009
  • Table 10 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 – 2009
  • Table 11 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate in Libya – 1999 – 2015
  • Table 12 – Historic - International bandwidth – 2001 – 2009

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Overall Africa view - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita – 2018
  • Chart 2 – North Africa - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita – 2018
  • Chart 3 – Africa – Middle-tier Telecoms Maturity Index (Market Challengers) – 2018
  • Chart 4 – North Africa –Telecoms Maturity Index by country – 2018
  • Chart 5 – North Africa mobile subscriber penetration versus mobile broadband penetration – 2018
  • Chart 6 – North Africa fixed and mobile penetration rates – 2018
  • Chart 7 – Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration – 2010 – 2024
  • Chart 8 - Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers – 2015 - 2024
  • Chart 9 - Growth in Al-Madar’s mobile subscriber base – 2013 - 2018
  • Chart 10 - Growth in Libyana’s mobile subscriber base – 2013 - 2018
  • Chart 11 - Growth in the number of fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 12 - Growth in the number of fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 – 2024

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Generalised Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – North Africa - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
  • Exhibit 3 – Map of Libya

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In 2009 Paul contacted me and we engaged in the brainstorming sessions that led to the development of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

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