Communications in Afghanistan

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Shamshad TV studio in 2010. In the background are the station owner Fazle Karim Fazl, with former U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Afghan Communications Minister Sangin Amirzai.

Communications in Afghanistan is under the control of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). It has rapidly expanded after the Karzai administration took over in late 2001, and has embarked on wireless companies, internet, radio stations and television channels. The Afghan government signed a $64.5 agreement in 2006 with China's ZTE on the establishment of a countrywide optical fiber cable network. The project began to improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services throughout Afghanistan. As of 2014, about 90% of the country's population has access to communication services.[1]

There are about 18 million mobile phone users in the country. Etisalat, Roshan, Afghan Wireless and MTN are the leading telecom companies. Etisalat became the first company to launch 4G services in 2014.[2] It is predicted that over 50% of the population will have access to the internet by 2015.[3] In 2014, Afghanistan leased a space satellite from Eutelsat, called AFGHANSAT 1.[4]

Telephone[edit]

There are about 18 million GSM mobile phone subscribers in Afghanistan as of 2009, with over 75,000 fixed-telephone-lines and little over 190,000 CDMA subscribers.[5][6] Mobile communications have improved because of the introduction of wireless carriers into this developing country. The first was Afghan Wireless, which is US based that was founded by Ehsan Bayat. The second was Roshan, which began providing services to all major cities within Afghanistan. There are also a number of VSAT stations in major cities such as Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazari Sharif, and Jalalabad, providing international and domestic voice/data connectivity. The international calling code for Afghanistan is +93. The following is a partial list of mobile phone companies in the country:

All the companies providing communication services are obligated to deliver 2.5% of their income to the communication development fund annually. According to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology there are 4760 active towers throughout the country which covers 85% of the population. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology plans to expand its services in remote parts of the country where the remaining 15% of the population will be covered with the installation of 700 new towers.

Phone calls in Afghanistan have been monitored by the National Security Agency according to Wikileaks.[9]

Internet[edit]

Internet user at Kandahar University

Afghanistan was given legal control of the ".af" domain in 2003, and the Afghanistan Network Information Center (AFGNIC) was established to administer domain names. As of 2010, there are at least 46 internet service providers (ISPs) in the country.[10] Internet in Afghanistan is also at the peak with 1 million users as of 2009.[11]

According to the Ministry of Communications, the following are some of the different ISPs operating in Afghanistan:[5]

Television[edit]

There are over 50 Afghan television channels worldwide, many of which are based inside Afghanistan while others are broadcast from North America and Europe. Selected foreign channels are also shown to the public in Afghanistan, but with the use of the internet, over 3,500 international TV channels may be accessed in Afghanistan.[12]

Radio[edit]

As of 2007, there are an estimated 50 private radio stations throughout the country. Broadcasts are in Dari, Pashto, English, Uzbeki and many other languages.

The number of radio listeners are decreasing and are being slowly outnumbered by television. Of Afghanistan's 6 main cities, Kandahar and Khost have a lot of radio listeners. Kabul and Jalalabad have moderate number of listeners. However, Mazar-e-Sharif and especially Herat have very few radio listeners.[13]

Postal service[edit]

In 1870, a central post office was established at Bala Hissar in Kabul and a post office in the capital of each province. The service was slowly being expanded over the years as more postal offices were established in each large city by 1918. Afghanistan became a member of the Universal Postal Union in 1928,[14] and the postal administration elevated to the Ministry of Communication in 1934.[15] Civil war caused a disruption in issuing official stamps during the 1980s-90s war[16] but in 1999 postal service was operating again. Postal services to/from Kabul worked remarkably well all throughout the war years. Postal services to/from Herat resumed in 1997.[17] The Afghan government has reported to the UPU several times about illegal stamps being issued and sold in 2003 and 2007.[18][19]

Afghanistan Post has been reorganizing the postal service in 2000s with the help of Pakistan Post.[16] The Afghanistan Postal commission was formed to prepare a written policy for the development of the postal sector, which will form the basis of a new postal services law governing licensing of postal services providers. The project was expected to finish by 2008.[20]

Satellite[edit]

Main article: Eutelsat 48D

It was announced in 2013 that Afghanistan would soon have its own satellite in space.[21] In January 2014 the Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information Technology signed an agreement with Eutelsat for the use of satellite resources to enhance deployment of Afghanistan's national broadcasting and telecommunications infrastructure as well as its international connectivity. AFGHANSAT 1 was officially launched in May 2014, with expected service for at least seven years in Afghanistan. The Afghan government plans to launch AFGHANSAT 2 after the AFGHANSAT 1 lease ends.[4]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Khetab, Muhammad Hassan (January 1, 2014). "90pc of Afghans get access to telecom services". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  2. ^ "Etisalat set to launch 4G Internet service". Pajhwok Afghan News. February 20, 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Baraki, Weda (September 22, 2012). "Govt issues third 3G licence to Roshan". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  4. ^ a b Khetab, Muhammad Hassan (10 May 2014). "Afghanistan's maiden satellite launched". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  5. ^ a b "Statistics". Ministry of Communications (Afghanistan). 2006. Retrieved January 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ Whitepages.af, phone system in Afghanistan
  7. ^ Areeba Afghanistan
  8. ^ MTN Group | Home
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Field Listing :: Internet hosts
  11. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Field Listing :: Internet users
  12. ^ Satellite Direct
  13. ^ http://www.altaiconsulting.com/docs/media/ Altai Consulting, July 2010, Media in Afghanistan
  14. ^ "Kabul: Streets with no names". BBC News. September 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 
  15. ^ "afghanpost.gov.af - About". 
  16. ^ a b "Postal Authorities A". 
  17. ^ "Afghanistan @ Stamps". 
  18. ^ "2003 UPU Circular". 
  19. ^ "2007 UPU Circular". 
  20. ^ "Afghanistan Postal commission". 
  21. ^ Khetab, Muhammad Hassan (February 17, 2013). "3 firms ready to launch Afghan satellite". Pajhwok Afghan News. Retrieved 2014-07-10. 

External links[edit]