Algeria’s minister of Posts, IT and Communications, Mouusa Benhamadi, has said that the country’s wireless operators will be launching the first 3G mobile data services by the end of March 2013, with licences to be awarded early in the new year. The government has attempted to proceed with 3G licensing several times in the past few years since plans for a formal auction were first revealed in May 2008. The procedure then stalled for several years and was further delayed when the state decided whether to by-pass 3G altogether and instead issue licences for 4G technology. Authorities have now decided that it would be too expensive for operators to deploy 4G, plus the cost of handsets is still too high for many prospective 4G users, so the country will at last be seeing its first high speed mobile services. The minister also revealed that Algeria’s first mobile money services will be introduced early next year.
Algeria’s wireless market is currently dominated by Orascom Telecom Algeria, which operates under the Djezzy brand and claimed almost half of the country’s 37 million mobile subscribers at the end of September 2012, figures from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database show. The other two active mobile operators are state-backed Algerie Telecom Mobile (Mobilis) and Wataniya Telecom Algeria (Nedjma), which held around 29% and 24% of the market respectively at 30 September.