Indian-backed cellco Airtel Chad has received the nation’s first 3G/4G licence, Biztech Africa reports. The concession obliges Airtel to activate 3G services in the capital, N’Djamena, within six months although the cellco expects to achieve that goal in just four months. Airtel expects to extend 3G services to most major cities within a year. Commenting on the development, the CEO of Airtel Africa Christian de Faria noted that mobile services are more readily available to most Africans than many other basic services – such as electricity, sanitation and financial services – and ‘as a result wireless communications services can play a unique role in addressing social, economic and environmental issues.’ No details regarding the price of the licence, or the frequencies included in the concession were available.
Chad’s Minister of Posts and New Information Technologies, Daoussa Deby Itno, added: ‘Chadians in N’Djamena and elsewhere need good quality data services. Students expect broadband internet in universities, traders expect high speed internet for their operations and physicians, amongst others, expect to be connected to the various operations that they have with the outside world. Everyone needs reliable connectivity.’
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Chad’s broadband and wireless markets are amongst the least developed in the region and the development of these segments has been identified by the government and international aid organisations as a key factor in alleviating a number of social and economic problems afflicting the country. Internet access in Chad has long been hindered by the nation’s landlocked status, and the country is one of only a handful still dependent primarily on satellite links for international connectivity. According to the latest figures from sector watchdog the Office Tchadien de Regulation des Telecommunications (OTRT), at the end of 2012 there were some 1.987 million internet users, 99% of which connected via the 2.5G GPRS/EDGE networks of Airtel and its cellular rival Tigo Chad.