State-owned Algerie Telecom has halved its price for internet access, taking the price of a home subscription for a 128kbps connection down to DZD590 (USD8.60) a month. Lotfi Nezzar, owner of rival Smart Link Communications, has appealed to the Regulation Authority of Post & Telecommunications (ARPT), to stop the implementation of the new pricing policy. Nezzar said, ‘The Algerie Telecom decision is, in a way, a return to the monopoly era’, as alternative operators cannot compete at the same pricing levels and will be pushed out of business.
The government has been planning to privatise Algerie Telecom since 2003, but the process has been repeatedly delayed despite strong interest from some major players including France Telecom, BT Group and Emirates Telecommunications. After the initial public offering (IPO) was again abandoned in 2006, it is now expected to take place at some point in 2008.