The Ministry of Telecommunications (MOT) and the Chinese Embassy in Beirut have celebrated last week the completion of the project.
It was built by technicians and engineers from Ogero, the Ministry of Telecom, and Chinese telecommunication network provider giant, Huawei Technologies. Construction started in 2008 and it was finalized last year.
China has also provided all devices and apparatus needed for operating the network which includes 50 base stations and covers five Lebanese territories- the Greater Beirut area, and the four cities, Tripoli, Jounieh, Saida and Nabatiyeh. It covers 50,000 users in those areas.
It is still unclear who will be licensed to operate, invest and use the new network which is the only third generation set-up among the other two. This is tied to a decision by the Council of Ministers.
“The Ministry is currently considering options regarding how and who will operate the network,” said the Minister of Telecom, Charbel Nahas. “We want to maintain economic efficiency from this network and at the same time offer a good service with competitive prices to the Lebanese,” said Nahas.
The Minister was skeptical about the ability of companies from the private sector to achieve the two goals on their own. “While many believe that we should hand the responsibility of operating all the three mobile networks to the private sector … earlier experiences are not encouraging in this regard,” he said.
A source from the Ministry told Businessnews that the Ministry is studying options that include either adding this network to the current ones or considering it as a niche network to be used later by the state-owned operator, Liban Telecom when the government sets it up.
Gebran El Khoury, who is the Director of the GSM Group at MOT/OGERO, proposed that the Ministry directly invests in the network in coordination with Ogero. “We are ready to provide a complete study on this option,” he said.
Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, LIU Zhiming, expressed China’s commitment to development in the technology sector in Lebanon. He said that through the grant the “Chinese government aims to tighten relations with Lebanon in the technology sector and particularly in the telecom field."