TDCA starts GSM trials

27 Jun 2003

A consortium led by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, The Telecom Development Company Afghanistan (TDCA), has started to test its GSM network in Kabul. The service is to be branded Roshan and will be the second to operate in Afghanistan, easing demand on the country’s only other operator, Afghanistan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC ), which launched in April 2002 but has struggled to cope with the unexpected demand and has suffered from frequent network congestion problems.

Prior to the launch of GSM services in Afghanistan, the only available means of communication were expensive satellite phones or the country’s tiny and highly inefficient fixed line network. The country currently has a mobile penetration rate of 0.05 %, but with two licenced operators to meet the burgeoning demand for services, the market is expected to grow at a rapid rate. It is thought that many inhabitants will choose wireless services over fixed line alternatives. In addition, the rollout of mobile infrastructure will be considerably easier and cheaper than developing the country’s fixed line network.

TDCA will make an initial investment of USD55 million to fund rollout in six of the country’s main cities and has plans to expand the network gradually over the next four or five years. A third company, Ariana Telecom, holds a GSM licence but has yet to begin building its infrastructure.

CIT's Yearbook of Middle Eastern Telecommunications