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Libyana forges ahead with sixfold growth

Libyana’s GSM subscriber count rose 518 per cent year-on-year in 2006 to an estimated 3.36 million, demonstrating the strongest rate of growth among major operators in the Middle East and Africa last year.

The mobile provider was launched in 2004 as Libya’s No. 2 operator but it is now well ahead of incumbent El Madar. It also posted a respectable year-on-year growth rate, 83.9 per cent but had only an estimated 614,000 subs at end-2006. Both operators are state-owned but Libyana’s focus on low-cost prepaid services is winning it more customers.

In the Middle East, Iraq’s AtheerTel, owned by MTC, saw its customer base grow to 3.2 million in 2006, up 198 per cent year-on-year.

Iran’s Taliya, a small but fast-growing prepaid network, posted a remarkable rise in customer numbers of more than 1,300 per cent year-on-year, giving it 650,000 subs at end-2006.

Taliya’s growth probably reflects the pent-up demand for mobile services in a market that is largely controlled by the near-monopoly state service, MCI. In October, South Africa’s MTN launched its Irancell service in Iran, but it has not reported subscriber numbers.


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