Franco-American equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent has struck a deal with Qtel to build a high-speed, fibre-based network in Tunisia, as the Qatari incumbent prepares to enter the North African country’s fixed-line market.
In a statement, Alcatel-Lucent (Paris, France) said it had signed a four-year agreement with Tunisiana – a Qtel (Doha, Qatar) subsidiary that currently provides mobile-phone services in Tunisia – to build a fixed-line network that will support voice, high-speed broadband and video services for residential and business customers.
The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Alcatel-Lucent says it will also manage and maintain the network, besides design and build it, with Tunisiana planning to launch commercial services in 2013.
The fixed-line network will include GPON and VDSL2 broadband access services, which are being used by operators in parts of Western Europe to provide high-speed internet services to customers.
Tunisiana remains the largest mobile-phone operator in Tunisia, with a 56% share of the market, but its revenue and earnings have recently suffered as a result of adverse foreign exchange movements.
Last quarter, it reported a 10% year-on-year decline in revenue, to QAR683 million ($188 million), with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization also down 10%, to QAR395 million.
The operator recently launched 3G services and said it was preparing for an entry into Tunisia’s fixed-line sector.
Tunisia Telecom was the country’s only fixed-line operator until May 2010, when Orange Tunisia, owned by France Telecom (Paris, France), began offering services.
According to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan, a market-research company, competition and the dissolution of monopolies have boded well for the market, although recent political instability has slowed down enterprise spending.
According to Frost & Sullivan, overall telecoms revenues shrank by 3.6% in 2011.