Dhaka, Nov 13 (bdnews24.com) — Telecom Development Company Afghanistan reached the mark of one million mobile subscribers on October 30.
With the brand name “Roshan” or light, the second mobile operator rolled out services in June 2003.
“We are very excited and proud of reaching the million subscribers milestone,” said Karim Khoja, chief executive of Roshan.
In more than three years, Roshan reached the mark, beating first mobile company in Afghanistan, the Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC)— 20 percent owned by the government.
The million customers milestone comes at a time when Roshan has enjoyed the best three months of its operations in spite of increased competition.
“Roshan’s story is similar to the Afghan people’s own story; a story of faith, courage and determination to succeed against all odds,” said Altaf Ladak, chief marketing officer of Roshan.
Roshan is Afghanistan’s leading cellular service provider, with a countrywide network that covers 155 cities and towns. It has invested over $220 million and became the country’s single-largest taxpayer contributing roughly six percent of the Afghan government’s overall revenue earnings.
Roshan is owned by an international consortium of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, Monaco Telecom International and US-based MCT Corp.
Xinhua reports that competition among cellular firms in Afghanistan have led to a successful development of telecoms industry and the drop of call charges in the post-Taliban nation.
Three cellular firms in AWCC, Roshan and Areeba are operating in the war-ravaged country, a development unbelievable during Taliban reign. All three operators are joint ventures by Afghans and foreign investors mostly from the Western countries.
Initially, some four years ago, SIM card would cost 15,000 Afghanis or $300 but today the price has been reduced to 500 Afghanis or $10.
Roshan and Areeba offered cheaper service and forced the rival AWCC to lower its service prices, even though the companies still charge higher for their services compared with the neighboring states.
The call rate of AWCC and Roshan is 7.5 Afghanis a minute nowadays, while Areeba charges 5.5 Afghanis.
“These companies are charging high call rates because they provide their services to the consumers via satellite and the rate would automatically drop after the installation of the optic fiber network,” said a local newspaper.
Another cellular company, the Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates, will start functioning in Afghanistan next year and thus the price of cellular service will further go down.
The Afghan government has received $87 million in taxes from the telecoms industry last year and it expects to earn $90 million this year.