Internet and Data
In 1996 Lebanon played a pioneering role when it became the first country in the Levant to offer Internet services. At the time over 30 internet service providers (ISPs) were attracted to the market by low entry barriers. Competition has since reduced this figure to less than twenty ISPs and six operational licensed data service providers (DSPs).
Internet penetration levels (users per 100 inhabitants) stood at 26% in 2007 according to the UN e-government survey (2008). However, after its late introduction, the broadband penetration rate remains relatively low. Pent-up demand for high speed broadband services points to significant potential in this market. The government has stated its commitment to broadband and rapid growth is anticipated in the broadband subscriber base in 2008 and beyond. It is worth noting that Lebanon has taken unprecedented steps in unbundling the local loop ahead of the corporatization of Liban Telecom. As competition between wireless and ADSL services intensifies, a healthy broadband market is expected to ensue, ultimately resulting in high quality services and lower prices.
Both local and regional investors have indicated an eagerness to invest in the telecommunications infrastructure in Lebanon. Investors looking to take advantage of opportunities in this sector will find a ready consumer base of well educated and highly skilled people with an eager appetite for new technologies. The presence of the TRA is yet another plus to investors. With the TRA in place, the groundwork has been set for new technologies and licensees to enter the market. This provides a vital opportunity for the country to leap frog to leading edge technology, and catch up with the region. In addition, the TRA has been active in developing a Regulatory Framework in line with international best practices. This wide-ranging Regulation is designed to cover the entire spectrum of issues relating to the telecommunications market. Its presence shows the commitment of the TRA to deliver objectivity, transparency and a non discriminatory approach to all players.