The telecommunications system in Lebanon was seriously damaged during the civil war, but it has has already been repaired and the country is ready to deploy the newest technologies. Quality mobile services is provided by two mobile-cellular networks. Almost 90 per 100 persons in Lebanon are subscribed to a combination of fixed-line and mobile-cellular services.
The Internet penetration rate in mid-June 2016 was of 76%. Lebanon’s mobile infrastructure has been primarily focused on 2G and 3G networks in recent years. Only around 16% of Lebanon has 4G mobile coverage, both at least two companies were planning to upgrade and expand their 4G networks during 2016. The 2020 Telecom Vision project by the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications wants to implement improvements in fibre-optic infrastructure with plans for the entire country to be covered by 2020.
Improvements in mobile infrastructure will hopefully overshadow stalled development of the tendering of Lebanon’s mobile network management contracts. The government announced in mid-2015 that a tender process would be held for obtaining the contracts and a final decision would be announced in the following September. However various delays and issues regarding tender applications caused that decisions regarding the ongoing management of the mobile networks were not made as expected. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is the agency that regulates the telecommunications sector in Lebanon.
Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The government does not restrict foreign investment; however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, complex customs procedures, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and weak intellectual property rights. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented; main growth sectors include banking and tourism.
The 1975-90 civil war seriously damaged Lebanon’s economic infrastructure, cut national output by half, and derailed Lebanon’s position as a Middle Eastern entrepot and banking hub. Following the civil war, Lebanon rebuilt much of its war-torn physical and financial infrastructure by borrowing heavily, mostly from domestic banks, which saddled the government with a huge debt burden. Pledges of economic and financial reforms made at separate international donor conferences during the 2000s have mostly gone unfulfilled, including those made during the Paris III Donor Conference in 2007, following the July 2006 war.
Spillover from the Syrian conflict, including the influx of more than 1.1 million registered Syrian
refugees, has increased internal tension and slowed economic growth to the 1-2% range in 2011-15, after four years of averaging 8% growth. Syrian refugees have increased the labor supply, but pushed more Lebanese into unemployment. Chronic fiscal deficits have increased Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio, the fourth highest in the world; most of the debt is held internally by Lebanese banks. Weak economic growth limits tax revenues, while the largest government expenditures remain debt servicing, salaries for government workers, and transfers to the electricity sector.
OGERO (Organisme de Gestion et d’Exploitation de l’ex-société Radio-Orient) was created in 1972 to run the installation of the previously established Franco-Lebanese Radio-Orient company. Since then the business activity of OGERO has evolved to become the main operator of the fixed telecommunications network in Lebanon and constitutes the backbone infrastructure for all telecom networks including Mobile Operators, Data Service Providers (DSPs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and others. The company continues to improve and expand its portfolio of services including Voice and Data services mainly based on Fiber (FTTx). In the near future, OGERO plans to move from connectivity offers to converged packages for its customers.