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“Microwave Ring” Boosts Afghan Telecommunications

Nearly four million Afghans now have mobile telephones and competition between Afghanistan’s four mobile phone companies ensures that number will continue to grow.  One of these companies, Afghan Wireless, has announced the completion of a 2,500km STM1 microwave ring, which passes through 18 provinces. The new backbone connects cities from Mazar, to  Badakshan to Kabul to Kandahar to Herat. Afghan Wireless claims to be the only telecoms company providing microwave connectivity to the Uzbekistan, Tajakistan and Pakistan borders. It also connects to the Iranian border in the west.

In addition to their business model, each of the 4 companies has social programs meant to benefit Afghan society. These include projects to distribute telephones free to women to encourage entrepreneurship such as pay-per-call community telephone businesses. Call centers run by the mobile companies are some of Afghanistan's biggest employers, and provide new opportunities to Afghanistan’s youngest generation, especially women. In a country where women's illiteracy is approximately 86%, telecommunications technology is widening horizons.

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