Communications in Afghanistan
Communications in Afghanistan has grown considerably in the last decadeclarification needed, and has embarked on wireless companies, internet, radio stations and television channels. The Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a $64.5 agreement in 2006 with China's ZTE on the establishment of a countrywide optical fiber cable network. The project was intended to improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services throughout Afghanistan.1 As of 2012, about 85% of the country's population has access to communication services.2
There are about 18 million mobile phone users in Afghanistan. Etisalat, Roshan, Afghan Wireless and MTN are the leading telecom companies. Etisalat became the first company to launch 4G services in 2013.3 It is predicted that over 50% of the population would have access to the internet by 2015.4 In the meantime, Afghan officials announced that they plan to send its own satellite into space.5
There are about 18 million GSM mobile phone subscribers in Afghanistan as of 2009, with over 75,000 fixed-telephone-lines and little over 190,000 CDMA subscribers.16 Mobile communications have improved because of the introduction of wireless carriers into this developing country. The first was Afghan Wireless, which is US based that was founded by Ehsan Bayat. The second was Roshan, which began providing services to all major cities within Afghanistan. There are also a number of VSAT stations in major cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazari Sharif, and Jalalabad, providing international and domestic voice/data connectivity. The international calling code for Afghanistan is +93. The following is a partial list of mobile phone companies in the country:
- Afghan Wireless
- Etisalat, the first company to provide 3G services in Afghanistan
- MTN Group 78
All the companies providing communication services are obligated to deliver 2.5% of their income to the communication development fund annually. According to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology there are 4760 active towers throughout the country which covers 85% of the population. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology plans to expand its services in remote parts of the country where the remaining 15% of the population will be covered with the installation of 700 new towers.
Afghanistan was given legal control of the ".af" domain in 2003, and the Afghanistan Network Information Center (AFGNIC) was established to administer domain names. As of 2010, there are at least 46 internet service providers (ISPs) in the country.9 Internet in Afghanistan is also at the peak with 1 million users as of 2009.10
According to the Ministry of Communications, the following are some of the different ISPs operating in Afghanistan:1
- Afghan Telecom
- Global Services (P) Limited
- Rana Technologies
- Global Entourage Services
There are over 50 Afghan television channels worldwide, many of which are based inside Afghanistan while others are broadcasted from North America and Europe. Selected foreign channels are also shown to the public in Afghanistan, but with the use of the internet, over 3,500 international TV channels may be accessed in Afghanistan.11
The number of radio listeners are decreasing and are being slowly outnumbered by television. Of Afghanistan's 6 main cities, Kandahar and Khost have a lot of radio listeners. Kabul and Jalalabad have moderate number of listeners. However, Mazar-E-Sharif and especially Herat have very few radio listeners.12
In 1870, a central post office was established at Bala Hissar in Kabul and a post office in the capital of each province. The service was slowly being expanded over the years as more postal offices were established in each large city by 1918. Afghanistan became member of the Universal Postal Union in 1928,13 and the postal administration elevated to the Ministry of Communication in 1934.14 Civil war caused a disruption in issuing official stamps during the 1980s-90s war15 but in 1999 postal service was operating again. Postal services to/from Kabul worked remarkably well all throughout the war years. Postal services to/from Herat resumed in 1997.16 The Afghan government has reported to the UPU several times about illegal stamps being issued and sold in 2003 and 2007.1718
Afghanistan Post has been reorganizing the postal service in 2000s with the help of Pakistan Post.15 The Afghanistan Postal commission was formed to prepare a written policy for the development of the postal sector, which will form the basis of a new postal services law governing licensing of postal services providers. The project was expected to finish by 2008.19
The Afghan Ministry of Communications announced that they plan to send its own satellite into space.5 The satellite will be launched at a position of 50 degrees east, due to geographical position of Afghanistan, the satellite will be able to cover Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa. According to the Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the geographical existence of Afghanistan is very valuable to connect all communications to this satellite.20212223
The satellite is expected to improve the country's television and internet coverage. In addition, it will save Afghanistan money in fees; Afghanistan currently pays around 100 million dollars a year to provide communication services.24 Based on statistics from the MCIT, Afghanistan needs around 1,700 megabytes for its communications per year. It will take at least three years to launch the satellite, with the total cost ranging between 200 to 300 million, major international countries have shown interest in sharing the costs with the Afghan government.23
- "Statistics". Ministry of Communications (Afghanistan). 2006. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
- "Etisalat set to launch 4G Internet service". Pajhwok Afghan News. February 20, 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- Whitepages.af, phone system in Afghanistan
- Areeba Afghanistan
- MTN Group | Home
- CIA - The World Factbook - Field Listing :: Internet hosts
- CIA - The World Factbook - Field Listing :: Internet users
- Satalite Direct
- http://www.altaiconsulting.com/docs/media/ Altai Consulting, July 2010, Media in Afghanistan
- "Kabul: Streets with no names". BBC News. September 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30.
- "afghanpost.gov.af - About".
- "Postal Authorities A".
- "Afghanistan @ Stamps".
- "2003 UPU Circular".
- "2007 UPU Circular".
- "Afghanistan Postal commission".