France’s Alcateland Finland’s Nokiahave been awarded separate contracts worth a total of about $220 million to roll out network coverage of 2.5G and 3G services. The client is the state-owned General Post & Telecommunications Company (GPTC).

Alcatel’s contract, worth about $100 million, calls for the supply of a mobile radio access network to serve GSM/EDGE (enhanced data rates for GSM evolution) and 3G/UMTS (universal mobile telephone system) users. The network should cover 75 per cent of the country – extending coverage to about 1 million new users. Completion is due in early 2005. Alcatel will also develop new mobile services for GPTC.

The $120 million Nokia contract covers the supply of GSM/EDGE and WCDMA (wireless code division multiple access)/3G network equipment to the GPTC, which will be available to about 60 per cent of the operator’s subscriber base, chiefly in and around Tripoli and in the western half of the country. The contract is Nokia’s first in Libya.

Tripoli is spending heavily to upgrade its telecoms infrastructure. A tender is out for three contracts, worth a total of $1,000 million, to modernise and upgrade the system, calling for the installation of 1.5 million fixed lines, a 6,000-kilometre optical fibre network and the supply, installation and management of a national control system to monitor the broadcasting frequency spectrum (MEED 23:7:04).

In early September, a new GSM provider entered the local market with the launch of services by Libyana, which joins the incumbent provider, Al-Madar. Both are government-owned. The new network will initially cover Tripoli, Benghazi and Sebha and will be extended throughout the country during 2005. China’s ZTE is carrying out the $42 million network expansion contract.