Telecommunications in Tunisia

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Telecommunications in Tunisia includes telephones (fixed and mobile), radio, television, and the Internet. The Ministry of Communication Technologies, a cabinet-level governmental agency, is in charge of organizing the sector.


  • International calling code: 216 (for calls from outside of Tunisia)[1]
  • International call prefix: 00 (for international calls from within Tunisia)
  • Fixed lines: 1.2 million (2011),[2] 1.3 million (2009),[3] 1.2 million (2005); 654,000 (1997)
  • Mobile cellular: 12.4 million (2011),[2] 9.8 million (2009),[3] 7.2 million (2007); 1.9 million (2003); 50,000 (1998)
  • Teledensity: ~100 telephones per 100 persons (fixed-line and mobile-cellular combined)[3]
  • System: Above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; telephone network is completely digitized[3]
    • domestic: trunk facilities consist of open-wire lines, coaxial cable, and microwave radio relay
    • international: 5 submarine cables; 2 satellite earth stations - Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and Arabsat; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya; participant in Medarabtel; 2 international gateway digital switches

Radio and television[edit]

See also: Tunisian Radio and Television Establishment (ERTT)
  • Radio stations: Several state-owned and private radio networks (2012)[4]
  • Radios: 2.06 million (1997)[needs update]
  • Television stations: State-owned and private national TV channels; Egyptian, French, and pan-Arab satellite TV command large audiences (2012)[4]
  • Televisions: 920,000 (1997)[needs update]
  • Households with television: 91.7% (2003)[5][needs update]

The government of former President Ben Ali tightly controlled the press and broadcasting. But since the 2011 popular revolt, many journalists have enjoyed new-found freedoms. The number of radio and TV channels and print publications has increased, as has their freedom to report and debate political and social issues. State TV, which had toed the government line, has changed tack, giving airtime to the former opposition.[4]

Prior to the Tunisian revolution there were four private radio stations operating in Tunisia. In June 2011, following the Tunisian revolution, a recommendation to license twelve new private radio stations was forwarded to the interim Prime Minister. In August 2011 none of the recommendations had been acted upon. However, several stations began broadcasting under time-limited provisional licenses. The stations operate without specific operating rules because a new regulatory framework is not yet in place.[6][7] In part due to the lack of a regulatory framework the government's National Office of Broadcasting (ONT) requires broadcasters to pay a licensing fee of 120,000 dinars (approximately $75,000), and while that license is not necessary to broadcast, it confers a certain amount of legitimacy that broadcasters need to draw advertisers. The large fee is difficult for new start-up stations and the new stations feel that the fees provide an unfair advantage for the older more established private groups organized under the previous regime.[8]


  • Top level domain (TLD): .tn[1]
  • Access: Available throughout the country using a fibre-optic backbone[9]
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 12 (2005)[needs update]
  • International bandwidth: 62 Gbit/s in 2012, 50 Gbit/s in 2010, 1.3 Gbit/s in 2006[10]
  • Internet users: 4,196,564 (2012),[11] 840,000 (2005); 410,000 (2001)
  • Internet penetration: 39.1% (2011), 36.8% (2010), 17.1% (2007), 9.7% (2005), 2.8% (2000)[12]
  • Fixed (wired) Internet subscriptions: 604,102 (2011); 543,290 (2010); 253,149 (2007); 150,220 (2005); 36,657 (2000)[13]
  • Broadband Internet subscribers: 544,392 or 5.1% (2011),[14] 481,810 or 4.6% (2010),[15] 372,818 or 3.6% (2009), 43,845 or 0.4% (2006)[16]
  • Facebook subscribers: 2,602,640 (2011)[11]
  • Facebook penetration: 24.5% (2011)[11]
  • Public CyberCafés: 350 (2005)[needs update]

Information and communications technology[edit]

The Tunisian government considers information and communications technology (ICT) an important tool to boost the country's economy and to adapt the education system to the opportunities available from using Information Technology (IT) as a tool. E-commerce, e-learning, and e-medicine are all areas of strong interest where the Government is seeking international partnership and investments. During the last 15 years, several important efforts were made to invest in ICT and the Internet. Physical infrastructures were modernised. In July 2004 the World Bank approved a $13 million loan to the Tunisian government to support the government effort in accelerating its ICT reforms. Though, beyond the high priority the government is giving to ICT, development of telecommunications in Tunisia has been slower than expected compared to other developing countries in Middle East and North Africa.[17]

2005 World Summit on the Information Society[edit]

The first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held in Geneva in 2003. Tunisia hosted the second World Summit in November 2005. The Tunisian government took the initiative to host the summit in 1998. It was organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) under the auspices of UNESCO. A declaration of Principles and Plan of Action were approved in order to bridge the digital gap between developing and developed countries within the World Information Society.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Tunisia profile: Facts", BBC News, 14 December 2011
  2. ^ a b "Tunisia profile", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 5 February 2013
  3. ^ a b c d "Tunisia profile", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 18 October 2011
  4. ^ a b c "Tunisia profile: Media", BBC News, 15 June 2012
  5. ^ "Tkunisia > Media", Nation Master, accessed 21 October 2011
  6. ^ "New Private Radios: Authorized but still Voiceless", Latifa Al-Mekbali, 27 August 2011
  7. ^ "Tunisia: The hijacking of free radio", Sana Sbouai, Nawaat, 17 July 2012
  8. ^ "Emerging from the Underground, Pirate Radio Seeks Acceptance", Paul Rosenfeld, Tunisia Live, 14 November 2012
  9. ^ "Tunisia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts",, accessed 21 October 2011
  10. ^ "Capacity of International Internet Bandwidth", Tunisian Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies, retrieved 20 February 2013
  11. ^ a b c "Tunisia", Internet World Stats, accessed 20 February 2013
  12. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2011", spreadsheet, International Telecommunications Unions (ITU), Geneva, 2011
  13. ^ "Fixed (wired)-Internet subscriptions 2000-2011", spreadsheet, International Telecommunications Unions (ITU), Geneva, 2011
  14. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions 2000-2011", spreadsheet, International Telecommunications Unions (ITU), Geneva, 2011
  15. ^ "Key Global Telecom Indicators for the World Telecommunication Service Sector", International Telecommunications Unions (ITU), Geneva, 2011
  16. ^ "Tunisia - fixed broadband internet subscribers", Index Mundi, accessed 21 October 2011
  17. ^ "Chapter 2.3: ICT on Tunisia: A Strategic Lever for Building a Knowledge-Based Economy", Tawfix Jelassi, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (France), The Global Information Technology Report 2009-2010, World Economic Forum, 9 March 2010
  18. ^ "Second Phase of the WSIS, 16-18 November 2005, Tunis", World Summit on the Information Society, International Telecommunications Union, retrieved 20 February 2013