Languages
Page last updated at 19:21 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Libya's wireless web access leap

Generic pic of laptop computer
WiMax does not rely on sometimes poor conventional wire infrastructure

Libya's only internet service provider is launching its first commercial wireless network which it says is one of the most advanced in the world.

The state-owned firm said only a handful of countries have rolled out the advanced internet connection known as WiMax on such a wide scale.

Libya Telecom and Technology aims to start with WiMax coverage, including a mobile feature, in 18 cities.

Africa is seen as a potentially huge market for WiMax technology.

The network is meant to be cost effective in the long run and does not depend on often poor conventional wire infrastructure.

Anyone with a simple USB device which can be plugged into a laptop can connect to the internet within 50km (30 miles) of any WiMax tower.

The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says six years ago most Libyans depended on internet cafes to connect to the web, but technology has moved a long way since then.

The new WiMax network, which has a capacity for 300,000 subscribers, will begin taking on business clients from next week and individual customers the week after.

Massive pressure

Our correspondent adds that other African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria also have WiMax networks, but their coverage is more fixed and limited.

There are an estimated 51,000 broadband subscribers in Libya and some 170,000 still depend on the much slower dial-up internet.

Both of these connections need a fixed phone-line, a service that has come under massive pressure in recent years because the available infrastructure is outdated and limited in coverage.

As well as rural areas cut off from modern technology, new housing - even in the capital Tripoli - is being built in areas with poor land-line infrastructure, says our correspondent.

The WiMax network is meant to do away with all these hurdles and bridge the digital divide, making the internet available to people across the country.

Libya Telecom and Technology said the new service would cost $30 (£21) per month - twice the existing cost of broadband - although prices are expected to drop in the long-run.

But our correspondent says it will be difficult for the average Libyan to afford the initial cost of the new WiMax service.

It requires a one-year advance payment of around $400 (£290), including the cost of a USB device.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Libya
11 Dec 08 |  Country profiles

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific