The contract to install 500,000 subscriber lines was initially awarded to Germany’s Siemensearly in 2002, but the tender was subsequently cancelled and equipment suppliers were requested to submit revised bids for the contract later that year. All six original bidders submitted revised prices. The others were Huawei Technologiesand Zhongxing Technologies (ZTE)both of China, the US’ Motorola, Alcatelof France, Ericsson and Siemens (MEED 31:1:03).

Ericsson is expected to take about five months to install the lines, which will enhance mobile coverage in 12 of Algeria’s 48 wilyas (administrative regions). With only 250,000 subscribers among a population of 31 million, Algeria’s mobile penetration rate is extremely low.

GSM services are provided by AT, which is also responsible for expanding the country’s fixed-line network, and by private GSM operator Orascom Telecom Algerie, which is building its own network using Alcatel equipment. There are plans for the sale of a third GSM licence at the end of the year.