Tunisia has one of the most sophisticated telecommunications and broadband infrastructures in North Africa. Penetration rates for mobile and internet services are s among the highest in the region. Stimulated by the Digital Tunisia 2020 program, a number of regulatory measures have been instituted aimed at improving internet connectivity to underserved areas. These in initiatives will also see the auction of spectrum in the 800MHz band for IoT and mobile services. For its part the incumbent telco Tunisie Telecom is investing to expand the reach and capabilities of its LTE network and build up a vectoring VDSL and fibre infrastructure. The company is also in the process of migrating internet traffic to its new Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) platform.
The events of the ‘Arab Spring’ revolution in 2011 drove the country into a brief recession, but GDP growth soon returned to pre-crisis levels. This encouraged growing confidence in economic recovery, though GDP growth has been modest, at only 1% in 2015 and 2016 and an estimated 2.5% for 2017. Political difficulties in recent years have also had an impact on the telecom sector, notably causing the delay in the planned sale of EIT’s 35% interest in Tunisie Telecom. Despite this, the government is pressing on with plans to list its 65% stake in Tunisie Telecom on the Tunis stock exchange, in part to help the company raise funds to enable it to pursue its expansion plans. These plans saw the company acquire the Maltese quad-play operator GO in August 2016. The government has also considered plans to offload its interests in Orange Tunisia and Ooredoo Tunisia.
The mobile sector experienced exceptional growth following the introduction of a second GSM network in 2002, operated initially by Egypt’s Orascom under the name Tunisiana and now by Qatar Telecom (Qtel) which rebranded it to Ooredoo. Orange Group entered the market as the third operator in 2010 and launched Tunisia’s first commercial 3G mobile service, followed by Tunicell in 2011 and Tunisiana in 2012. HSPA+ services are also widely available. In March 2016 the regulator accepted bids from all three MNOs for LTE licenses. Extensive LTE trials were carried out in late 2015, and commercial launches were made in late 2016.
Ooredoo and Orange Tunisie are also licensed as fixed-line operators and have launched DSL and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) services. In addition, a dozen public and private ISPs compete in this sector, supported by a nationwide fibre optic backbone network and international access via submarine and terrestrial fibre.
A reform of the country’s Telecommunications Act was initiated in 2013 and government internet censorship was officially abolished. In addition, laws supporting e-commerce and digital signatures have been passed, which has led to one of the most active e-government and e-commerce sectors in Africa.
Ooredoo Tunisia launches Tunisia’s first NB-IoT network; Watany Telecom licensed as Tunisia’s second MVNO; MNOs and regulator sign agreement related to QoS parameters for fixed and mobile number portability; Tunisie Telecom begins rolling out FttC with VDSL vectoring, offering data at up to 300Mb/s; regulator opens public consultation on plans to regulate fibre infrastructure sharing; regulator sets amended 3G/LTE mobile data rates for operators; Tunisie Telecom partners with Korea Telecom to develop a 1Gb/s broadband service, completes G.fast trials delivering data at up to 800Mb/s; MVNO Lycamobile sees strong subscribers growth into 2017; report updates include the regulator’s market data to November ay 2017, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q3 2017, recent market developments.
Market penetration rates in Tunisia’s telecoms sector – 2017 (May)
|Mobile SIM (population)||124.3%|
Tunisie Telecom (Tunicell), Orange Tunisie, Ooredoo (Tunisiana, Orascom, Wataniya, Qatar Telecom/Qtel), Planet Tunisie, 3S GlobalNet, HexaByte, Tunet, Topnet, Divona Telecom, Thuraya, Nokia Networks, Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson.
Companies (Major Players)
Mobile & Wireless Broadband and Media
Mobile Communications (voice and infrastructure)
Regulations & Government Policies
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)
Number of pages 45
Last updated 2 Feb 2018
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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