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Lebanon gets 3G, elevates its business attraction

June 30, 2011

Lebanon probably hasn’t paid too much attention to 4G iPhones, as the country just got 3G capability nationwide this week.

The new network should make Lebanon a more attractive destination for investment. It still has to get over the whole being a puppet of Syria and constant tension with Israel things, but this can only help — especially since Iraq and Syria are the only other 3G networks in the region.

The Middle East and Africa as a region had just 7 percent 3G cellphone penetration in 2009, one of the worst regions in the world for cellphone service. That number is expected to grow to 35 percent in 2014.

The Middle East has been a little slower than many regions on communications technology, but it is trending toward modernization. More Middle Eastern residents have cellphones than ever before, and it is one of the fastest growing regions for cellphone adoption.

Lack of economic diversity certainly has played a role in the Middle East’s slow adjustment to 3G. With so much of the Middle East dependent on the oil industry, there was little incentive for governments to make that investment because the oil industry could get along fine without it. Everyone needs oil, and production efficiency isn’t a big concern for buyers.

The 3G technology also could help protest movements, if Lebanese feel so inclined to join other Arab nations. Faster and more reliable communications technology would make Twitter even more viable.

From the Lebanon Daily Star:

The state-owned GSM operator is set to launch one of the latest versions of the 3G technologies, 3.9G, granting users Internet speeds of up to 170 MB per second, more than a 100 times maximum bandwidths of current 2G networks.

This is like bringing Lebanon out of the cellphone stone age. That alone should make it a more attractive place for business. It has the aforementioned shaky governance and political atmosphere issues to overcome, which will definitely inhibit investment. Still, businesses couldn’t have liked the idea of operating in a rapid-paced global world on a 2G network. This will certainly pay off.

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