Fixed line licence up for grabs in 2009, newspaper says

12 Nov 2008

Tunisian daily Le Quotidien is reporting that the government will launch an international tender to award a fixed line telephone licence next year, as part of a drive to boost foreign investment and accelerate growth. As it stands, state-controlled Tunisie Telecom (TT) holds a monopoly on the provision of fixed line services. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database TT was part-privatised in 2006. Six bidders – Vivendi, MTN, France Telecom, Etisalat, Saudi Oger and Tecom/DIG – expressed an interest, and after a long-running auction, at the end of March Tecom/DIG was announced the winner with a bid of EUR1.89 billion (USD2.25 billion), which beat the next closest offer from Vivendi of EUR1.71 billion. At the end of 2007 TT boasted a network of 1.27 million main lines, translating into a teledensity of 12.4%, placing it behind Egypt (14.9%) but ahead of Algeria (8.8%). However, the number of fixed lines appears to have peaked, with the regulator reporting that by June 2008 the number had declined to 1.25 million. In outlying rural areas the incumbent has used various alternative technologies – including WiLL, point to multi-point and restricted wireless mobility (Mobiruf) platforms – to expand its infrastructure to under-served areas. To boost wireline take-up in the face of stiff competition from wireless operators, TT has begun offering incentives to its fixed line customer base, such as a free second line and discounted value added services such as messaging. It has also begun lowering tariffs, a process which is expected to continue throughout 2008/09 as the launch of a competitor comes closer to reality.

Tunisia, Tunisie Telecom (TT)