France's Alcatel is close to finalising a deal to install a GSM network in the coastal city of Sirte, a company official confirmed on 21 August. He declined to give details of the value of the contract. The Sirte contract will be awarded by state telecoms provider, the General Post & Telecommunications Company (GPTC).
The network, expected to have a capacity of around 100,000 subscribers, builds on Alcatel's previous work in Libya. In 1999, the company installed a 1,600-kilometre, 2.5-gb/s submarine fibre optic cable from the Tunisian border to 12 coastal cities, and has since extended the link to Alexandria, in neighbouring Egypt. Libya's first GSM network, Al-Madar, began in 1996 and has proved extremely popular.
At around 10 per cent, teledensity in Libya is still very limited. The government plans to boost the figure to 27 per cent by 2015 and to 37 per cent by 2020. An estimated $12,500 million investment is required to meet these goals. In addition, Tripoli intends to expand the existing backbone network to support the internet, and introduce a national GSM service (Libya, MEED Special Report, 17:8:01).
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