Communications in Albania

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Until 1990, Albania was one of the world's most isolated and controlled countries, and installation and maintenance of a modern system of international and domestic telecommunications was precluded. Callers previously needed operator assistance even to make domestic long-distance calls.

Albania's telephone density was the lowest in Europe, at 1.4 units for every 100 inhabitants. Tirana accounted for about 13,000 of the country's 42,000 direct lines; Durrës, the main port city, ranked second with 2,000 lines; the rest were concentrated in Shkodër, Elbasan, Vlorë, Gjirokastër, and other towns. At one time, each village had a telephone but during the land redistribution of the early 1990s peasants knocked out service to about 1,000 villages by removing telephone wire for fencing. Most of Albania's telephones were obsolete, low-quality East European models, some dating from the 1940s; workers at a Tirana factory assembled a small number of telephones from Italian parts.

In the early 1990s, Albania had 240 microwave circuits to Italy and 180 to Greece carrying international calls. The Albanian telephone company had also installed two U-20 Italtel digital exchanges. The exchange in Tirana handled international, national, and local calls; the Durrës exchange handled only local calls. Two United States firms handled direct-dial calls from the United States to Tirana. At present the land lines are overloaded and it is difficult to receive a telephone number. As a result, the number of mobile phones has skyrocketed in the bigger cities.

Contents

Telephone system

  • Main lines in use: 316,400 (2008)
  • Mobile cellular: 3.1 million (2008)

Despite investment in fixed lines, the density of main lines remains the lowest in Europe with nearly ten lines per 100 people (2008); however, cellular telephone use is widespread and generally effective.

  • domestic: offsetting the shortage of fixed line capacity, mobile phone service has been available since 1996; by 2003 two companies were providing mobile services at a greater density than some of Albania's Balkan neighbors
  • international: inadequate fixed main lines; adequate cellular connections; international traffic carried by fiber optic cable and, when necessary, by microwave radio relay from the Tirana exchange to Italy and Greece (2003)

Radio and television

  • Radio broadcast stations: FM 56 (3 national, 53 local), shortwave 1 (2008)
    • Radios: 1 million (2001)
  • Television broadcast stations: 76 (3 national, 73 local); note - 3 cable networks (2008)
    • Televisions: 1 million (2008)

The state broadcaster in Albania is Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH). The broadcaster with the most audience is TV Klan (according to a survey conducted in 2002).

Internet

  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 10 (2001)
    • Internet users: 1,000,000 (2009)

country comparison to the world: 98

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