Afghanistan has witnessed a dramatic transformation and reformation in its telecom sector after 2001. The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology has been among the first Afghan agencies to arrange public sector policies and strategies for the telecom sector so that the company and private offices to invest in the telecommunications sector and deploy telecommunication systems.
In this piece, the growth of the telecom sector is reviewed briefly in the last 20 years namely in the operators and coverage areas.
During the Taliban regime, there was only one government-controlled radio station, and television was banned. However, the telecom sector particularly Afghan media flourished since the interim government took power in 2002.
Currently, there are 6 Mobile Network Operators including one landline operator, 113 Television Operators, 324 FM Radio Operators, and 60 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that provide services all around the country.
After the establishment of the interim government in Afghanistan, there were only two telephones for every 1000 citizens of the country, and communicating between provinces was almost impossible.
The Afghan government had recognized that telecommunication would be crucial to the rebuilding of the new Afghanistan and therefore has focused on the transformation and development of the telecom sector as a high priority. The government took certain steps to encourage private investment and developed the legal framework in a manner that attracts private investment. This resulted in an increase in the number of Afghans with a telephone connection in a manner that the users grew seventeen-fold and prices for mobile services fell down by 70 percent in just three years. In 2012, the number of phone users increased to nearly 20 million and internet users to nearly 2 million based on research conducted by AISA in 2013.
The Mobile Telephone Population Coverage has reached a maximum of 90% of the total population of Afghanistan which is around 35 million, according to Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority’s (ATRA) statistics for the second quarter of 2020. The statistics show that the total SIM subscribers have reached more than 34 million—It is noteworthy that many users utilize more than one SIM card. Moreover, Landline subscribers have reached more than 140,000 users.
According to ATRA statistics, the 3G broadband subscribers have reached more than six million and the 4G broadband subscribers have reached around 890,000 subscribers in Afghanistan.