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French Version

Lebanon - Lebanon to launch first DSL in March

Lebanon is expected to launch the first Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) in March or April at rates that are compatible with European countries, Minister of Telecommunication Marwan Hamade said Tuesday.

Hamade made the announcement after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with representatives of Internet Providers and Licensed Data Operators in Lebanon which would allow the companies to use the government's cable networks and install and operate the new broadband services.

The head of the government-run Ogero Telecom Abdel-Munim Youssif told The Daily Star the Licensed Data Operators will make all the necessary investments in the cable networks to enable consumers to connect to the broadband service. "We have not yet discussed the fees from the IPO," Youssif said, adding that the government will not put any money into the project.

Youssif said the Telecommunication Ministry hopes the end user will not pay more than $50 a month for a package that allows a download speed of 512K.

"The unbundling of the cable networks is close to privatization of the services because the whole system will be run by private companies," Youssif said.

Maroun Chammas, executive director of the IDM Internet provider, said Ogero will charge 10 percent of what the consumers will pay.

"The rates will definitely be much cheaper than the current Internet rates and most importantly the consumers will no longer have to pay additional fees on their phone connections," he added.

At present, IPOs provide outmoded phone internet services, wireless internet and cable connections restricted to companies. The connections rates are among the highest in the region. According to recent statistics, there are 200,000 Internet subscribers in Lebanon, way behind many countries in the Middle East.

But the MoU put some restrictions on the IPOs, including a ban on the use of Voice Over IP.

The government has been cracking down on illegal IPOs that provide internet service with voice capabilities believing they will affect state revenues.

Beirut,01 09 2006
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The Daily Star
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