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Lebanon adds 400,000 mobile users during first quarter

Mobile penetration up by 10% following government’s growth targets

Mobile penetration in Lebanon has increased by 10%, with the two government-owned operators adding a total of 400,000 subscribers during the first quarter of the year.

In January, Lebanon’s Council of Ministers announced plans to cut tariffs by 40% and calls by 15% as part of a drive to increase usage of mobile devices, which has lagged behind other countries in the Middle East since services were first launched in 1994.

The government also set both operators a target of increasing their subscriber base by 400,000 each by the end of 2009, and according to figures released by the operators they are both half way towards reaching their targets.

Zain-managed MTC Touch boosted its subscriber base from 836,000 at the end of 2008 to 1,000,000 customers by the start of April.

A spokeswoman for rival operator Alfa, which is managed by Orascom, told CommsMEA that the network now has 820,000 users, up from 600,000 it had at the start of the year.
She added that Alfa expects to reach the milestone of one million subscribers “by the summer”.

The extra customers have pushed Lebanon’s mobile penetration rate up from 37% to 47%.

In order to support the growth, both mobile networks have embarked on a network expansion plan.

MTC Touch has added 150 new sites, which it says gives it the capacity to serve up to 1.2 million people, while Alfa claims to have added 278 base stations to take its capacity to one million customers.