Algeria considering opening fixed telephony market to competition

11 Sep 2014

Algerian telecoms minister Zohra Derdouri has revealed that the country’s fixed telephony market could be opened up to competition ‘soon’, Agence Ecofin reports. The minister reportedly said in a press conference, co-hosted with Mehmel Azouaou, CEO of Algerie Telecom (AT): ‘We want to create real competitive conditions by installing one or more other operators for fixed [services]… as soon as this issue is ripe, we will inform the press of the details relating thereto.’

Another issue discussed at the conference was the potential entry of new mobile operators in the wireless market, which would diversify the services currently on offer and ultimately force the country’s incumbent cellcos – Djezzy GSM, Mobilis and Ooredoo Algeria (Nedjma) – to upgrade the quality of their mobile networks.

According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in March 2004 Algerian telecoms regulator, the Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms (ARPT), launched an abortive attempt to auction three licences (known as ‘inter-urban’ concessions, since there was no requirement to cover the country’s extensive rural population), but a lack of interest meant that the auction was called off. In March 2005 the regulator finally awarded the country’s second national operator (SNO) licence to Consortium Algerien de Telecommunication (operating as Lacom, but also referred to as CAT). Lacom’s debut was not a success, however, and in August 2007 Lacom’s owners revealed they were considering exiting the market due to heavy financial losses. Ultimately, after a number of failed attempts to sell their shareholdings, in November 2008 the international partners decided to liquidate the venture. Lacom’s licence was officially revoked in January 2010, opening up the possibility for it to be reissued at some later date.