By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 21 January:
There could be WiMax coverage across the whole country by August this year, according to ZTE, who are working on the project with Libya Telecom and Technology (LTT).
Malik Shaban, the deputy CEO of ZTE in Libya, told Libya Herald today, Monday, that work was now beginning on the second phase of enhancing the existing WiMax network. Using equipment which has been here since before the revolution, more than 300 new transmission towers will now be installed at strategic positions across the country.
Chinese telecoms firm ZTE returned to the country in September 2011 to repair services damaged during the revolution. It has since resumed most of its pre-revolution contracts, one of which was Phase Two of the country’s WiMax network.
However, the area the new towers were originally planned to cover has now been extended. “The government has pushed for extra coverage, to cover the whole country,” Shaban said, adding: “The government is now focusing on rural areas in the south.”
The new towers are expected to have a big impact for the population, of which only between 4.5 and 5.5 percent currently have internet access. “Internet for all is our target,” said Shaban, speaking to Libya Herald at Libya’s seventh annual telecommunication and information technology exhibition at the Tripoli International Fairground.
Libya was the first North African country to deploy WiMax, in 2009. The wireless internet system has, however, been criticised as an outmoded technology that becomes easily congested when too many people try to use it at any one time.
ZTE appeared confident that the 300 additional towers it is installing will overcome this problem. “When we have expanded the coverage and capacity,” Shaban said, “there will be no congestion.”
At present, the country has only 346 towers in 18 separate locations, according to LTT. These are massively overloaded supplying connectivity to 80 percent of Libya’s internet users. LTT’s Managing Director, Saad Ksheer, told Libya Herald that it is planning a total of 588 new WiMax towers and that, once these have been installed, it will start replacing the old towers with more up-to-date technology.