Libya - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Libya sees in its first LTE network

Libya’s civil war has crippled the country’s economy and disrupted its telecommunications sector. Considerable telecom infrastructure has been 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.

As a result of these difficulties, and of heightened national security issues, telecom services have been regularly disrupted, particularly in the eastern region of the country. In June 2017 In June 2017 mobile and landline services were restored in Sirte after these had been disconnected by Islamic State (a group ejected from the city after a two-year occupation). As a security measure, the main mobile network provider Libyana in July 2017 disconnected SIM cards owned by foreigners, on the basis that criminals and radical groups had been using the company’s network for their activities. Reregistering a SIM card now requires proof of ID.

In early 2015 the state telco (along with many other businesses) decamped to Malta, and since then both rival administrations have fought in the Maltese courts in an attempt to assume control of the company. The collapsing economy, which has seen GDP fall dramatically in recent years and looks set to continue into 2018, has stymied the ability of telcos to invest in infrastructure.

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 were expected to compete with 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.

Despite destruction to telecom infrastructure, it remains superior to those in most other African countries. Massive investments had been made by the former government into 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 S10 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 will be put into effect.

With one of the highest market penetration rates in Africa, the mobile voice market is approaching saturation, 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 only one of the mobile networks has launched third-generation (3G) broadband services. Fixed-line penetration has fallen significantly as a result of the war but is also expected to see a renaissance, including fibre, as the demand for very high-speed broadband increases.

Key developments:

  • Italy-Libya cable upgraded to support 100Gb/s technology;
  • Libyana launches Libya’s first LTE network;
  • Central Bank of Libya launches m-payment service with Al-Madar;
  • Libyana requiring proof of ID to reactivate SIM cards held by foreigners;
  • Hatif Libya ready to expand fixed wireless service in western areas of the country;
  • Rebel activity continues to damage telecom infrastructure;
  • Government approaches ITU for help to develop telecom regulatory framework;
  • 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 recent market developments.

Table 1 – Market penetration rates in Libya’s telecoms sector – 2016

Penetration of telecoms services: Penetration
Fixed-line telephony 21.5%
Fixed broadband 2.6%%
Mobile SIM (population) 119.7%

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

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Market analysis
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1.1 General Authority for Information and Telecommunications (GAIT)
      • 5.2 Market liberalisation
      • 5.3 Second national operator (SNO) licence
      • 5.4 Mobile licence - 2011
      • 5.5 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
    • 6. Fixed network operators
      • 6.1 LPTIC/GPTC/Hatif Libya
    • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
      • 7.1 National fibre backbone
      • 7.2 Next Generation Network (NGN)
      • 7.3 International infrastructure
        • 7.3.1 International submarine fibre
        • 7.3.2 Satellite
        • 7.3.3 LAP Green Networks
    • 8. Fixed-line broadband market
      • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
        • 8.1.1 Market analysis
        • 8.1.2 Broadband statistics
      • 8.2 Fixed-line broadband technologies
        • 8.2.1 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Networks
        • 8.2.2 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
        • 8.2.3 Other fixed broadband services
    • 9. Mobile market
      • 9.1 Market analysis
      • 9.2 Mobile statisitcs
      • 9.3 Mobile data
        • 9.3.1 SMS and MMS
        • 9.3.2 Mobile broadband
      • 9.4 Mobile infrastructure
        • 9.4.1 Digital networks
        • 9.4.2 Other infrastructure developments
      • 9.5 Major mobile operators
        • 9.5.1 Al-Madar
        • 9.5.2 Libyana
        • 9.5.3 LibyaPhone
    • 10. Mobile content and applications
      • 10.1.1 Mobile TV
      • 10.1.2 M-payment
      • 11. Related reports
      • Table 1 – Market penetration rates in Libya’s telecoms sector – 2016
      • Table 2 – Country statistics Libya – 2016
      • Table 3 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2016 (e)
      • Table 4 – Internet and social media user statistics – 2016 (e)
      • Table 5 – Internet provider statistics – 2017
      • Table 6 – Mobile statistics – 2016
      • Table 7 – National telecommunications authority
      • Table 8 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1999 - 2009
      • Table 9 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2010 - 2018
      • Table 10 – International bandwidth – 2001 - 2016
      • Table 11 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate in Libya – 1999 - 2009
      • Table 12 – Internet users and penetration rate in Libya – 2010 - 2018
      • Table 13 – Fixed broadband subscribers – 2006 - 2018
      • Table 14 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Libya – 1999 - 2009
      • Table 15 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Libya – 2010 - 2018
      • Table 16 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2013 - 2016
      • Table 17 – Al-Madar mobile subscribers – 2013 - 2016
      • Table 18 – Libyana mobile subscribers – 2013 - 2016
      • Chart 1 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 – 2018
      • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate in Libya – 2005 – 2018
      • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 - 2018
      • Exhibit 1 – Map of Libya

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