State-owned operator Afghan Telecom (Aftel) has struggled to compete with its privately owned rivals, Wadsam quotes telecoms minister Amirzai Sangeen as saying. The official noted that at end-December 2012, Aftel had signed up 150,000 subscribers – understood to refer to the company’s wireless in the local loop (WiLL) users – compared to around 19 million mobile customers represented by Roshan, Etisalat Afghanistan, MTN Afghanistan and Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC). Sangeen added that the telco generated revenues of USD70 million in 2012, with expenses totalling USD34 million. The operator has cash reserves of USD64 million that will be used for further investment and expanding coverage. Aftel provides fixed and fixed-wireless telephony as well as DSL internet services and announced in November 2012 that it had contracted Chinese vendor ZTE to roll out a GSM network to areas without service or with limited or unreliable access.