Communication infrastructure in Albania is not in its developed stage compared to its neighbors. There are more than 0.32 million fixed telephone line in the country that places Albania at 114th place in comparison with other countries. Number of mobile subscriptions is more than 3.5 million as of this writing.

Albania, the European country, which was ruled by Turkey’s Ottoman Emperors were freed in 1912, but only until it was powered by the Italy in 1939 followed by the Germans in 1943. Post World War II saw Communist revolution in the country and the party allied itself with the mighty Soviet Union and later with China. Albanian Governments have tried to improve communication infrastructure in the country. New investments have been made in the sector. Still the teledensity is only around 10 fixed lines per 100 people. As in any other country, mobile telephones are commonly used by people in Albania. Mobile density stands at 116.2 per 100 people indicating a good growth and popularity of mobile communication services in Albania.

Internet broadband, which was introduced to the country in 2005, has not shown a good growth until now, Internet cafes are sprouting in cities like Tirana and slowly spreading to other parts of the country. Albania is connected to Italy, Croatia and Greece through submarine cable, Trans-Balkan line connects Albania with Bulgaria, Turkey and Macedonia. International data traffic to and from Albania is mainly handled by the fiber optic networks which is supported by microwave radio relays from Tirana telephone exchange to Italy and Greece, whenever necessary.

Trans-Balkan Line is a mixture of fiber optic network and submarine cable system. Developments in fixed and mobile network have been restricted by a variety of factors, such as challenging mountainous terrain in much of the country, low population density and low level of affluence of much of the population, especially in rural areas. These factors have influenced the cost and financial risk of developing networks and services, including Broadband services, and especially fiber optic solutions, throughout Albania.

Albania fiber optic market reportFixed line operators
• ALBtelecom (Calik Holding)
• ABCOM Shpk
• Albania Satellite Communications Shpk
• Primo Communications Shpk (Telekom Slovenije)
Mobile operators
• AMC (Cosmote)
• Vodafone Albania (Vodafone Group Plc)
• Eagle Mobile (ALBtelecom Sh.a)
• Mobile 4 Al (Post Telecommunications of Kosovo(PTK) Major Shareholder)

Telecom Regulatory Entity (TRE) regulates the telecom and ICT activities in Albania. Albtelecom have been installed fiber optic cables. Expansion of private fiber optic networks was stalled by expense and difficulty in obtaining Rights-Of-Way. Fiber backbone infrastructure had grown from 2,160 kilometers to 4,690 kilometers by the end of 2010: Albtelecom operates about 2,840km of network and other networks amounts to 1,820km. Albtelecom has also built a 1,530 km fiber backbone network. Albtelecom offers services in all urban and most rural areas through interconnection with other rural operators.

Albtelecom uses MSAN (Multi-Service Access Node) for Internet access where the connection from the telephone exchange to the cabinet is made with optical fiber and then with copper line. This may be taken as FTTN (Fiber To The Node). Albtelecom has made investment in Next Generation Access by installing a great number of MSAN for the connection of all subscribers into NGA/NGN network.

Albania has a few fiber optic networks deployed and hopes to increase in the future. International bandwidth is improving due to improved connections on submarine cables particularly with Italy. International Internet Connectivity has increased from about 6 Gbps at the end of 2009, to about 14 Gbps at the end of 2010 and to about 30 Gbps at the end of 2011. In early 2011 Albtelecom and Telecom Italia Sparkle began upgrading the capacity of the Bari-Durres cable from 2.5Gb/s to 20Gb/s, and Italy will be linked to the Balkans Internet exchange (BIX) in Tirana. BIX is being developed by UNIFI to serve as Albania’s first fiber connected data centre providing connectivity from Albania to the major telecoms hubs in Western Europe, including Milan, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and London. Subsequent phases of BIN will connect to Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro.

Albania has more than 15,000 fixed line connections and more than 1.4 million internet users. Fixed line broadband subscribers are low at 5.8 per 100 people. More than 22 percent of houses have computer and more than 60 percent of people uses internet, mobile or fixed. Country has potential to grow, but demand for fiber optic products will not be high. Fiber optic products and services supply from neighboring countries would be good strategy. Individuals interested in fiber optics can set up distributorship/agency for fiber optic products from neighboring countries.

Chief Editor of Fiber Optic Mania Magazine