Tunisia - Tunisie Télécom Rolls Out HSPA+ Services as Demand for Mobile Data Rises in Tunisia24 Aug 2011 • by Natalie Aster
Tunisie Télécom, Tunisia largest mobile operator by subscribers, has launched HSPA+ network services, offering transmission speeds of up to 42Mbps. The service is initially available in nine provinces, including the greater Tunis area, Nabeul, Sfax and Sousse, covering about 40% of the population. According to the operator, the service will cover 80% of the population by the end of 2011, and the entire country by 2012.
Tunisia is one of a few countries in the Middle East and North Africa with underdeveloped 3G markets, partly because of the late allocation of licences. However, we believe the service is set to take off in the country considering the network investment plans by the operators and growing demand for mobile data services on the back of the internet-fuelled political uprisings in the region.
Tunisie Keen To Maintain Market Dominance With HSPA+
Source: Operators, BMI
Tunisie Télécom will immediately compete with third-ranked Orange Tunisia in the 3G market. Orange launched the first 3G service in Tunisia in May 2010 and has alluded to an overwhelming demand for 3G lines. In September 2010, a government source revealed that Tunisie Télécom was awarded a 3G licence for TND116mn (US$83mn), the same amount paid by Orange for the licence. It has taken Tunisie Télécom almost one year to launch commercial 3G services, a move we expected the operator to expedite in order to counter Orange's first mover advantage.
Going forward, we expect price and network coverage to be major factors in competing in the 3G market. Tunisie Télécom's initial tariffs offer prepaid customers access to the service at TND0.10 per 10KB, or a daily pack of 500MB for TND2. The operator also offers a prepaid monthly pack of 1GB for TND30 and postpaid plan of 6GB for TND30 for access using a USB dongle.
BMI expects strong demand for 3G services in Tunisia, partly because of the growth pattern in similar markets in MENA and the increased awareness and demand for mobile data on the back of internet-fuelled anti-government protests in the region during H111. Meanwhile, the commercial launch of 3G services by second-ranked Tunisiana will increase competition and, consequently, boost subscriber growth in the market. In April 2011, equipment vendor Alcatel-Lucent announced it signed a contract with Tunisiana to upgrade the operator's network to an all-IP infrastructure as it prepares for 3G and LTE. Tunisiana has not said when it will launch commercial services, but we believe a long delay is unlikely considering the high demand for the service.
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