Morocco’s largest fixed line and mobile operator Maroc Telecom has launched a commercial 3G/3.5G W-CDMA/HSDPA mobile network covering the country’s major cities. At launch, services are available in Rabat, Casablanca, Mohammedia, Agadir, Fes, Marrakech, Kenitra, Tetouan, Tanger, Essaouira, Meknes, Temara, Skhirat, Mohammedia, El jadida, Nador and Oujda. The operator said in a statement that HSDPA handset users will be able to make video phone calls, download games, ringtones, music and videos at rates of up to 3.6Mbps (theoretical maximum) as well as accessing high speed internet services. French media group Vivendi increased its stake in Maroc Telecom from 51% to 53% last October, whilst the Moroccan government retains a 30% stake, and 17% is publicly floated.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Maroc Telecom had 12.838 million GSM subscribers at the end of September 2007, giving it a 66.3% share of the market. The former telecoms monopoly’s sole GSM rival Medi Telecom (Meditel) launched 3G/3.5G services in April 2007, whilst a third national 3G licence holder, Wana (formerly Maroc Connect), currently offers limited mobility CDMA2000 1x WiLL services in major urban centres, and is expected to be given regulatory permission to begin offering full mobile services this year. The three operators paid USD41.2 million each for their UMTS licences in July 2006.