Over the past decade, the number of Internet users in Algeria has greatly increased due to the increase of internet speeds and lowering of tariffs, as well as the introduction of new telecommunication technologies such as 3G and 4G LTE. The country is also modernising its internet network by installing optical fiber cables and multi-service access nodes (MSANs) all across the country.
The Internet penetration rate in Algeria was slightly over 37% in 2016. Mobile penetration stands at about 108%, which is relatively low by regional standards. The regulator was slow to issue 3G licences, while LTE were not awarded until May 2016. In addition, three telcos were awarded Universal Telecommunications Service (UTS) authorisations in early 2016 which will provide wireless or fixed telecoms services to underserved areas.
Algeria’s fixed-line penetration rate was in decline for a number of years before the trend was reversed in 2015. This recovery is likely to continue to the end of the decade as infrastructure is extended to hitherto underserved areas. The country’s relatively well-developed infrastructure includes a national fibre backbone which is being augmented with a new subsea link to Europe. The market has begun to recover from the social and political unrest which erupted in 2011. Investor confidence has been revived by recent moves from the government to sell a stake in the country’s leading mobile operator, Mobilis. The Regulatory Authority of Post and Telecommunications (ARPT) regulates the post, broadcasting, and telecommunications in Algeria.
Algeria’s economy remains dominated by the state, a legacy of the country’s socialist postindependence development model. In recent years the Algerian Government has halted the privatization of state-owned industries and imposed restrictions on imports and foreign involvement in its economy.
The government’s efforts have done little to reduce high youth unemployment rates or to address housing shortages. Since late 2014, declining oil prices forced the government to spend down its reserves at a high rate in order to sustain social spending on salaries and subsidies, particularly since the government has been unable to boost exports of hydrocarbons or significantly grow its nonoil sector. In 2015, the Algerian Government imposed further restrictions on imports in an effort to reduce withdrawals from its foreign exchange reserves. Long-term economic challenges include diversifying the economy away from its reliance on hydrocarbon exports, bolstering the private sector, attracting foreign investment, and providing adequate jobs for younger Algerians.
Algeria’s main operator of Internet services and fixed and mobile telephone services is Algérie Télécom. The company has been slated for privatization, but the process has been repeatedly delayed. Algérie Télécom launched an LTE network in 2014, making Algeria the first country in North Africa to have such a network. The company has subsidiaries for the mobile (Mobilis) and spatial telecom (RevSat) sectors.
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