Beirut, Lebanon- Sep 21, 2022: Minister of Telecommunications, Johnny Corm held a meeting with Alfa and touch senior executives today as part of the ongoing meetings with the two companies to discuss the progress in implementation of the action plan which targets ensuring the sector’s continuity and services enhancement.
Corm was briefed on the current status of the network weeks after the tariff adjustment and the technical issues and network challenges as well as the progress achieved in terms of addressing these issues and improving the key performance indicators (KPIs).
Minister Corm revealed that Lebanon achieved a big leap on the Ookla global benchmark for mobile speeds, jumping up 27 ranks to the 76th position worldwide by end of August with an average speed of 25.35 mbits/sec. He announced that the target is to reach an average speed of 28 mbits/sec upon the plan completion.
Minister Corm stressed on the importance of cooperation and synergy to ensure the plan’s success. He asked the two companies to involve all employees in the plan which is everyone’s responsibility.
Alfa CEO and Chairman, Jad Nassif outlined the current network status, Alfa’s network availability action plan which is being implemented in coordination with Minister Corm, and the targeted outcomes upon plan accomplishment.
Nassif showed a map of Alfa’s sites distribution across Lebanon. He stated that “60 percent of Alfa sites enjoy a high service availability that ranges between 90-96 percent in regions such as Jbeil, Keserwan and West Bekaa. This percentage goes down to less than 80 percent in other areas such as the capital Beirut and Mrajeyoun”. This brings the average network availability to 86-88 percent, and the target, Nassif explained, is “to increase the network’s availability to 95 percent on average across Lebanon”.
Nassif said that several factors impact the service availability in a particular area with electricity outages and sites thefts being the two major factors affecting the service. He pointed out that “Alfa’s plan will address these issues on a region-by-region basis to achieve a 95 percent availability on average knowing that some areas will maintain a higher availability rate especially those the least affected by the external factors mentioned”.
He said that the implementation of the plan has started by Alfa’s technical team, and we are witnessing improvements. Achieving a higher network availability will result in improvements in all KPIs, Nassif explained, adding “our target is to reduce the drop call rate to 0.25 percent (one of the best percentages worldwide) from 0.36 percent currently, improving the call setup rate to 99.75 percent from 99.14 percent currently, as well as enhancing the internet quality and speeds up to the targeted 28 mbits/sec”.
Nassif pointed out that the plan will be addressing external factors impacting the service availability (electricity and thefts) as well as the network-related factors such as exchanging old batteries with new ones with high efficiency.
He emphasized that Alfa is committed to enhancing the quality of service as part of the bigger goal which is to maintain the mobile service continuity. He said that Alfa is increasing the network’s reliance on solar power, revealing that “237 sites have been equipped so far with solar energy and work is underway to equip 50 additional sites”.
Nassif said that the customer behavior post-repricing reconfirmed that the mobile service has become a necessity and is not a luxury anymore. He pointed out that "we witnessed a drop in data and voice services’ consumption in the first two months after the new tariffs came into effect. This drop was within our expectations. Today, this consumption is stabilizing, especially in terms of data, which indicates that the Lebanese are adapting to the adjustments in the sector which were inevitable to ensure continuity”.
He stressed that Alfa was fully available to answer all customer inquiries and serve subscribers after the repricing, noting that “the Alfa stores network across Lebanon served more than 152,000 subscribers in July and August and handled more than 292,000 inquiries through our digital platforms and 111-customer hotline”.
In addition to the current network availability action plan, Alfa is eyeing a technology-focused, long-term plan for a better future for Lebanon and the Lebanese, Nassif said, emphasizing that “Alfa is laying the grounds for its proper implementation". He announced that "Alfa will launch the Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service to 350,000 eligible subscribers in the first quarter of 2023 which is a step towards 5G”. He also revealed Alfa's technical readiness and its team’s full preparedness to launch 5G, announcing that “Alfa has conducted 5G tests on 11 live 5G sites in several areas in Greater Beirut where a record speed of 1.8 Gigabits/per sec was achieved which is 10x higher the current speeds”.