90% of the population is under telecom services coverage

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Kabul, Afghanistan: Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) regulates telecom services independently and impartially in an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner within the scope of the law.

Development of telecom services, regulation, and supervision of telecom markets and regulation of communications between ATRA, the Operators and users, and other relevant agencies are the main goals of the ATRA.

"Currently there are five companies providing telecom services to the nation, which includes Afghan Telecom, AWCC, Roshan, MTN and Etisalat," said Omer Mansour Ansari, Acting chairman of ATRA, speaking at the State Accountability Program to the Nation held at the GMIC.

Ansari added there are about 22.4 million active SIMs in the country, the number of telecom companies’ sites reaches 7072, about 90% of the country's population is under telecom services coverage, and total investment in the telecom sector has reached AFN 183 billion.

Meanwhile, Bilal Hashimi, ATRA admin, and finance deputy said supervising the quality of telecom services is one of the key duties of ATRA, and the telecom quality measurement team measures the quality of telecom services under the terms of the licenses issued and based on the results obtained, it is assessed and proposed to the ATRA Board for taking a decision.

He stressed that telecom companies are required to fix their telecom services in accordance with the licenses issued; else they will be penalized by ATRA.

Hashimi added that five telecom companies were fined AFN 1.2 billion due to poor quality of telecom services.

ATRA notes the unlimited use of jammers by government authorities, foreign troops and individuals; destruction of telecom sites and cutting fiber by armed opposition; lack of a second fiber-optic network by telecom companies and restrictions on the distribution of additional frequencies, as the reason behind the poor quality of Telecom services.

ATRA also says that the high cost of operating costs compared to other countries; Afghanistan's landlocked geography and lack of fiber optic networks to the fiber optic submarine; destruction of telecom sites and cutting fiber-optic due to security issues and high custom fees, paying huge costs for the protection and maintenance of towers, and the use of generators due to the lack of electricity, are the main reasons for not reducing the tariffs.

ATRA admin and finance deputy said that as a result of supervising and control of the SIM card registration process, a total of AFN 12 million fine was imposed on two violating telecom companies and 37 SIM card providing centers were also fined a total of AFN 19.3 million.