Last year Algeria Telecom announced that they were launching a small-scale FTTH pilot program in one of the suburbs of Algiers. The main stated reason was responding to a willingness by local governments of eliminating satellite dishes that ruin the view. That may sound odd to people who live in countries where most of the habitat is single homes, but having been to Algiers a couple of times in the early 2000s I believe it’s not quite as anecdotal as it sounds.
Having said that, I believe that AT uses this as an argument to get municipal backing, but the real driver is for them to sell IPTV and eat into the revenue flows of the satellite distributors. The pilot was considered successful, and Algeria Telecom announced a couple of weeks back (link in French) that they were deploying a slightly larger operation in Medea with 2000 homes connected. More importantly, Algeria Telecom announced that their FTTH footprint would expand to 250.000 homes by the end of 2011.
Again, in comparison with large-scale deployments in North America or Asia, this may seem very small indeed, but it’s worth remembering that there are only 3.2 million active wireline phone lines in Algeria (World Factbook, 2008), so what we are really talking about here is the upgrade of close to 1/10th of the wireline network.
It’s worth keeping in mind that while there isn’t significant competition on the wireline side in Algeria, competition in wireless is fierce, and Algeria Telecom is not the dominant player in that market. According to the article above, AT is starting to see copper disconnects, so delivering more through the wireline is also a way of staying afloat in their historical market.
Exciting to see a growing number of emerging countries seriously moving in the fiber direction.