Lebanon’s telecoms minister Boutros Harb has revealed a five-year plan to deploy high speed fibre-optic broadband infrastructure across the country by 2020. Harb announced on Wednesday: ‘Fibre-optic networks will be installed in Lebanon progressively over five years and the country will be totally connected through this technology by the year 2020.’ As reported by local newspaper The Daily Star, the minister added that 4G LTE mobile services – currently covering ‘around 16%’ of the territory – will be expanded to cover the whole country in two years, in preparation for 5G launches around 2020. He continued: ‘We have been receiving a lot of complaints regarding the malfunction of the internet connectivity. This is why we need to work hard on developing this project … The project will cost over USD600 million but it will be fully covered by the budget of the Telecommunications Ministry.’ Harb stressed that the cost of implementing the five-year plan would be less than the losses incurred by Lebanon in the absence of such important technology. ‘This project will attract foreign investments to Lebanon while providing new job opportunities,’ he added.
Minister Harb explained that the fibre-optic project involves the creation of an initial fibre network directly connecting to around 15,000 commercial, banking, financial and economic institutions in the first phase, while another direct fibre network will connect homes and offices. Three pilot projects are in progress to evaluate fibre broadband service quality, including a scheme in Ras Masqa (Koura) providing 100Mbps-plus access speeds to pilot users.
Harb also revealed that he has allocated money for the upgrade of the DSL network in Lebanon by introducing VDSL2 technology at 36 exchanges in Beirut and other areas, increasing the available internet speeds to between 30Mbps and 50Mbps. ‘[State-owned telco] Ogero will soon launch an advertising campaign to inform citizens about this [VDSL] service,’ the minister announced, while noting that the copper last-mile upgrade was an intermediate upgrade in preparation for direct fibre adoption in the next phase.