The Autorité de Régulation de la Poste and des Télécommunications has not said when it expects to award the 3G licence.

Algeria already has three mobile phone operators who could apply for the 3G licence so that they can provide extra services, such as mobile broadband and mobile email.

Djezzy, which is owned by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, is the market leader with 13.8 million customers.

Nedjma, which is backed by Qtel from Qatar, has more than 4.5 million customers and state-owned Mobilis has more than 9 million, according to Wireless Intelligence.