New statistics show strong xDSL user growth in Lebanon; fibre access rollout begins with institutions

23 Mar 2016

Despite persistent reports over the last two years of Lebanon’s stalled fibre network upgrades, DSL access speed problems and other broadband network issues, the volume of active xDSL subscriber lines in the country has increased strongly, according to new statistics reported by the Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT). Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb announced at a Beirut conference last Thursday that total DSL subscribers reached 537,135 at the end of 2015, up from 318,750 at end-2013. As quoted by Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star, Mr Harb also highlighted the deployment of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and VDSL infrastructure over state-owned nationwide telco Ogero’s network: the number of exchanges equipped with VDSL reached 78 at the end of 2015 (non-existent in 2013), while the number of subscribers served by FTTC (with xDSL connections to their premises) stood at 8,253 at end-2015 (also unavailable in 2013). Lebanese internet service providers (ISPs) now number 112, Harb added. TeleGeography notes that ISPs in Lebanon are permitted to offer connections via the fixed network of Ogero and/or over their own fixed-wireless networks (no recent figures released) as well as reselling mobile broadband access over the cellular networks of Alfa and Touch Lebanon.

Minister Harb also announced that Lebanon’s number of fixed line telephony subscribers reached nearly one million in 2015 compared to 870,465 in 2013, while the number of mobile subscribers is now nearing 4.5 million compared to around 3.8 million in 2013. The minister also claimed that mobile data users increased to approximately 2.8 million in 2015 from roughly two million in 2013.

At the same conference, Boutros Harb declared that Lebanon’s long-awaited high speed fibre-optic broadband network is functioning and has been extended to large institutions, adding that: ‘Following the installation of fibre-optics in big cities we will be linking this service to buildings and households.’ The Daily Star writes that when Harb became minister in 2014, the country’s fibre-optic backbone connecting major switchboards to each other and large institutions was already largely complete. However, work was reportedly suspended under the new minister’s initiative. At Thursday’s conference, Harb reiterated that the current installation of fibre-optics is part of the 2020 strategy he launched in July 2015; under that plan, fibre-optic networks are to be installed in Lebanon progressively over five years and the country ‘totally connected’ with fibre by 2020.

Lebanon, Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT), Ogero Telecom