Mobile Phone Use Grows in Afghanistan

Despite continued fighting in the nation, Afghan Wireless Communications and rival Roshan both said their subscriber numbers have each hit 2 million in Afghanistan, marking fast growth in a nation that in 2002 first launched mobile phone services.

Afghan Wireless reported hitting the milestone earlier than Roshan.

Afghan Wireless was the first company allowed to set up a GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) wireless network in Afghanistan through a deal signed in April, 2002. By July 9, of the same year, the company had 41,000 wireless subscribers in four cities. At the time, Afghanistan had just 40,000 fixed-line connections in a nation of over 22 million people.

As of May 28 this year, Afghan Wireless boasted 2 million subscribers spread over 300 towns in all 34 provinces across Afghanistan.

Roshan, the largest competitor for Afghan Wireless, launched services in July, 2003 and also said it hit the 2 million mark last week on June 19. The company's network covers 224 cities across 33 provinces in Afghanistan, according to its Web site.

The war in Afghanistan started in October, 2001, as a response to al-Qaida's destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Forces from the U.S., U.K., Germany, Poland and elsewhere remain in Afghanistan today.

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