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Tunisia invites telcos to submit bids for 5G mobile network services

The Ministry of Communication Technologies in Tunisia has officially opened a tender process, inviting telecommunications companies to participate in a competitive bidding for the rights to establish and manage a public telecommunications network capable of delivering fifth-generation (5G) mobile services throughout the country. This initiative is a critical component of the Tunisian government’s comprehensive strategy to advance digital technology, with the ultimate goal of upgrading the country’s digital infrastructure and achieving widespread access to high-speed broadband services.

The announcement was made through a press release issued by the ministry on Sunday, June 30, 2024, signaling the start of the bidding process. Telecommunications operators with an interest in securing one of these 5G network licenses are required to prepare and submit their comprehensive proposals to the central registry of the Ministry of Communication Technologies. The deadline for bid submission has been set for 2 p.m. West Africa Time (WAT) on Monday, September 2, 2024.

The Ministry has emphasized transparency in the selection process, stating that the bid opening event will be conducted in a public setting, allowing for an open and fair competition among the participating telecom companies. This move is expected to foster a competitive environment that will benefit the Tunisian digital landscape and its users by introducing the latest in mobile network technology.

Upon the conclusion of the bid submission period, the Ministry of Communication Technologies in Tunisia will convene a general session at 3 p.m. West Africa Time (WAT) on September 2, 2024. This session is organized for the purpose of publicly opening and reviewing the submitted proposals. Each proposal is expected to contain several distinct components, including administrative documentation, financial details, technical specifications, and an economic assessment.

All telecom operators who have submitted bids for the 5G network licenses are invited to be present at this session. Their attendance will ensure a transparent process as they witness the opening and evaluation of all competing proposals.

Prior to submitting a bid, telecom operators must complete a registration process. This involves the submission of specific documents and the payment of a non-refundable fee of 5,000 Tunisian Dinars (approximately $1,609) to the national treasury of Tunisia. This fee is part of the administrative requirements for participating in the tender.

The initiation of this tender is in line with the Tunisian government’s recent endorsement of a strategic plan for the deployment of 5G technology. On June 13, the government approved a roadmap for the launch of 5G services, which includes the allocation of radio frequency spectrum to telecom operators. Specifically, the plan outlines the provision of 5 MHz duplex in the 700 MHz frequency band and 100 MHz in Time Division Duplex (TDD) mode within the 3.5 GHz band for each operator. This allocation is designed to facilitate the establishment of a robust 5G network infrastructure by the successful bidders, thereby advancing Tunisia’s telecommunications capabilities.

In addition to the initial spectrum allocations for the 5G network licenses, the Ministry of Communication Technologies in Tunisia has indicated that there will be three blocks of 20 MHz spectrum available for operators to request. These blocks are part of the early stages of the 5G rollout, with further frequency bands set to be announced in subsequent phases of deployment. This approach allows for a scalable expansion of 5G services as demand and technology evolve.

The licenses granted to successful bidders in this tender will be valid for a period of 15 years. However, the cost of these licenses has not been disclosed, and it is expected to be revealed as part of the tendering process.

Tunisia’s current telecommunications landscape includes three public mobile network operators (MNOs) that provide 2G, 3G, and 4G services: Tunisie Télécom, Ooredoo Tunisie, and Orange Tunisie. These operators have established a significant presence in the market and are likely to be key contenders in the bid for 5G licenses.

Additionally, the country’s telecom sector is supported by two mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and a number of Internet service providers (ISPs). Among these ISPs are Orange Tunisie Internet, GlobalNet, Hexabyte, Bee, Nety, Next Step, Topnet, and the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI), which contribute to the diversity and competitiveness of the internet services market in Tunisia.

The National Telecommunications Authority released statistics on February 29, 2024, detailing the number of mobile phone subscribers in the country, which stands at 16,258,517. The data also shows that there are 11,583,616 registered mobile internet customers, highlighting the significant penetration of mobile connectivity and the potential for growth with the introduction of 5G services. This growth is expected to be catalyzed by the new 5G network, which will likely drive further innovation and expansion in digital services across Tunisia.

The Tunisian government has taken a structured approach to the rollout of 5G mobile communications services by establishing a specialized committee within the Ministry of Communication Technologies. This committee is tasked with overseeing the preparatory stages that will lay the groundwork for the introduction of 5G services in the country.

The committee’s responsibilities include a range of critical functions such as:

  • Coordinating the tender process for the 5G network licenses, ensuring that it is conducted in a fair, transparent, and efficient manner.
  • Overseeing the allocation of the radio frequency spectrum necessary for 5G technology, including the initial spectrum bands and the additional blocks that will be made available to operators upon request.
  • Developing and implementing the regulatory framework that will govern the operation of 5G networks, including the terms and conditions of the licenses.
  • Engaging with stakeholders, including existing telecommunications operators, potential new entrants, and other relevant parties, to ensure that the needs and concerns of all interested parties are addressed.
  • Planning for future phases of 5G deployment, including the announcement of additional frequency bands as technology and market demand evolve.

The formation of this committee signifies the Tunisian government’s commitment to a strategic and methodical deployment of 5G technology. By involving a dedicated team within the Ministry of Communication Technologies, the government aims to ensure that the introduction of 5G will enhance the country’s digital infrastructure and support the broader digital transformation goals of Tunisia. Innovation Village

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