Harb unveils five-year network enhancement plan

4G LTE mobile services will be expanded to cover the whole country in two years
Lebanon’s telecoms minister Boutros Harb.
Lebanon’s telecoms minister Boutros Harb.

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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.

“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,” he said.

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, according The Daily Star.

“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 $600 million but it will be fully covered by the budget of the Telecommunications Ministry,” Harb added.

The cost of implementing the five-year plan would be less than the losses incurred by Lebanon in the absence of such important technology, Harb commented. “This project will attract foreign investments to Lebanon while providing new job opportunities.”

Harb explained that the fibre-optic project involves the creation of an initial fibre network directly connecting 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.

He also said that the Ministry 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.

“Ogero will soon launch an advertising campaign to inform citizens about this [VDSL] service,” he said. Harb added that the copper last-mile upgrade was an intermediate upgrade in preparation for direct fibre adoption in the next phase.

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