Algeria's domestic telecommunications system consists of high-capacity radio-relay and coaxial-cable trunk routes that link all the major population areas along the Mediterranean. Lower-capacity routes branch off the trunk routes to the south, providing communications with towns in the interior. A domestic satellite system with fifteen ground stations is used for telephone and television links from the main station near Algiers to remote areas in the Sahara.
In 1992 Algeria had 900,000 telephones, or 3.4 telephones per 100 inhabitants. Although 95 percent of the service is automatic and capable of international direct-dial service, 5 percent of the telephones are still connected to manual exchanges, requiring an operator to complete all calls. Demand for new service far outstrips the government's ability to install new lines. To alleviate some of the pressure for new telephones, the government ordered 3,000 new public telephones in 1991 to augment the 6,000 public telephones already in service. Mobile telephone service, with an initial capacity of 3,000 lines, was also introduced in major coastal cities in 1991.
International telecommunications are considered excellent and use a mix of satellite, undersea cable, coaxial cable, and radio relay. The coaxial cable and radio-relay lines along the coast extend into Morocco in the west and Tunisia in the east. A smaller radio-relay line in southeastern Algeria links directly with the Libyan national system. Six submarine coaxial cables under the Mediterranean Sea provide 3,200 simultaneous channels to Europe; two of the cables go to Spain, three to France, and one to Italy. Telephone, television, and data communication to most of Asia and the Americas go via two satellite ground stations, one working with the International Telecommunications Satellite Corporation's (Intelsat's) Atlantic Ocean satellite and the other with Intelsat's Indian Ocean satellite. Television transmission and telephone calls to and from other countries in the Middle East are routed through a ground station linked to the Arab Organization for Space Communications (Arabsat) satellite. Arabsat not only provides telephone, data transmission, telex, and facsimile transmission but also is heavily used for live broadcasts of prayers from Mecca and Medina and for showing inter-Arab sports events.
In contrast to international communications links, in 1993 domestic broadcast facilities were sparse. Only the larger populated areas of the country are able to receive television and radio. The country has twenty-six amplitude modulation (AM) radio stations, broadcasting in Arabic, French, and Kabyle; there are no frequency modulation (FM) radio stations. A moderate-strength shortwave station with programs in Arabic, French, Spanish, and English broadcasts to remote areas of the south and to neighboring countries. Eighteen transmitters provide television service to major cities. The country had an estimated 3.5 million radios and 2 million television sets in 1993.
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