Libya - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Islamic militias in Libya undermine investor confidence

Libya’s civil war has crippled the country’s economy and disrupted its telecommunications sector. It is estimated that more than S1 billion worth of telecom infrastructure was destroyed, including about 20% 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. In early 2015 the state telco (along with many other businesses) decamped to neighbouring Malta, and since then both rival administrations have fought in the Maltese courts in an attempt to assume control of the company. GDP growth fell to a negative 14% in 2013 and negative 24% in 2014, affected by intensified civil unrest, though there are indications that positive growth of up to 7% may be possible for 2015.

Under the Gaddafi regime, virtually the entire telecom and internet sector was in government hands, with the unique situation of three government-owned mobile networks supposed 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 the destruction, Libya’s telecommunications infrastructure is 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:

  • Militia activity continues to damage telecom infrastructure;
  • Government approaches ITU for help to develop telecom regulatory framework;
  • Alternative Islamist government declared, edging Libya into further unrest;
  • Ericsson and NSN contracted to deploy a national mobile broadband network;
  • Libyana’s mobile network split in two;
  • Alcatel-Lucent signs contract with LITC to build a 1,000km subsea cable system linking Tripoli to Benghazi.

Estimated market penetration rates in Libya’s telecoms sector – 2015 (e)

Market Penetration rate
Mobile (SIM cards) 142%
Fixed 10%
Internet 24%

(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)

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 Regulatory authority
      • 5.1.1 General Telecommunication Authority (GTA)
    • 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 CDMA-2000 WLL
    • 7.2 National fibre backbone
    • 7.3 Next Generation Network (NGN)
  • 8. International infrastructure
    • 8.1 International submarine fibre
    • 8.2 Satellite
    • 8.3 LAP Green Networks
  • 9. Broadband market
    • 9.1 Introduction and statistical overview
      • 9.1.1 Market analysis
      • 9.1.2 Broadband statistics
      • 9.1.3 Computer initiatives – One Laptop per Child (OLPC)
      • 9.1.4 ISP market
    • 9.2 Broadband Infrastructure
      • 9.2.1 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Networks
      • 9.2.2 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
      • 9.2.3 Fixed wireless (WiMAX, WiBro, Wi-Fi)
      • 9.2.4 Satellite broadband
  • 10. Mobile communications
    • 10.1 Market analysis
    • 10.2 Mobile Statisitcs
      • 10.2.1 Subscriber statistics
      • 10.2.2 Mobile broadband statistics
    • 10.3 Mobile infrastructure
      • 10.3.1 HSPA
      • 10.3.2 SMS
      • 10.3.3 MMS
      • 10.3.4 GPRS/EDGE
      • 10.3.5 Satellite mobile
      • 10.3.6 Third generation (3G)
      • 10.3.7 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
    • 10.4 Major mobile operators
      • 10.4.1 Al-Madar
      • 10.4.2 Libyana
      • 10.4.3 LibyaPhone
  • 11. Mobile content and applications
    • 11.1.1 Mobile TV
    • 12. Related reports
    • Table 1 – Country statistics Libya – 2015 (e)
    • Table 2 – Fixed-line network statistics – 2015 (e)
    • Table 3 – Internet and social media user statistics – 2015 (e)
    • Table 4 – Internet provider statistics – 2015
    • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2015 (e)
    • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
    • Table 7 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Libya – 1999 - 2004
    • Table 8 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Libya – 2005 - 2015
    • Table 9 – International bandwidth in Libya – 1999 - 2014
    • Table 10 – Historic - Internet users and penetration rate in Libya – 1999 - 2004
    • Table 11 – Internet users and penetration rate in Libya – 1999 - 2016
    • Table 12 – ADSL broadband subscribers in Libya – 2006 - 2015
    • Table 13 – LibyaADSL pricing – 2008 – 2013; 2015
    • Table 14 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Libya – 1999 - 2015
    • Table 15 – Active mobile broadband subscribers – 2013 - 2014
    • Table 16 – Al-Madar mobile subscribers – 2013 - 2014
    • Table 17 – Libyana mobile subscribers – 2013 - 2014
    • Chart 1 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Libya – 2005 – 2015
    • Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate in Libya – 2005 – 2016
    • Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2005 - 2015
    • Exhibit 1 – Map of Libya
    • Exhibit 2 – An overview of the One Laptop per Child project

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