Internet users complain about Afghanistan’s expensive but low-quality internet

Internet users in Afghanistan have raised their voices over what they say are exorbitant prices for poor quality services in the country.

According to internet users, the cost of services in neighboring countries is much lower than in Afghanistan – making it unaffordable to many people.

One Kabul resident, Wahida Omar, said she uses a lot of data in order to access the internet and it is expensive but in return, the service is poor.

“In one month, I activate 3 GB of internet for 400 Afghanis ($4.4), which does not work properly,” Wahida added.

According to her, the internet speed is also very slow.

Hawa Safi is another Kabul resident who relies on the internet to study. She is unable to continue her education, due to the Taliban’s restrictions on women, and has signed up for online training courses. However, she says the quality of internet service is bad and she struggles to attend online courses.

“When I want to attend an online class, the internet disconnects and reconnects several times and I can’t listen to the lesson properly. Even when I need Google to get course materials, it takes several hours for the page to open.”

Accessing the internet is important for millions of people in Afghanistan, as they use it for education purposes, shopping, research and entertainment.

Imran Rahmani, who is also from Kabul, was another irate user. “I have a YouTube channel and an important part of my daily work is linked to the internet. While my income has decreased; the cost of low-quality internet is still high.”

“The price of data in Afghanistan is higher than the price of food. 1GB of data costs 200 Afghanis ($2.20). While its quality is very poor and it takes several hours to reload a page,” he added.

Prior to the Taliban coming into power in Afghanistan, telecommunication companies were under serious pressure to keep their services running as often their infrastructure, including towers, was targeted. The Taliban also imposed “taxes” on these companies in exchange for not destroying infrastructure.

Currently, there are six telecom companies in Afghanistan – including two Taliban-run entities. They all provide mobile phone services and internet services. Despite being a competitive business environment, the quality of the internet has not improved, users say.

Afghanistan’s internet prices compared to Iran and Pakistan

Domestic networks provide different internet prices in the country; the price of 8GB of internet on an MTN network is 720 Afghanis ($7.91); Roshan provides 10GB of internet for 600 Afghanis ($6.59); Afghan Wireless (AWCC) sells 5 GB internet for 500 Afghanis ($5.49) and Etisalat network provides 5 GB internet for 550 Afghani ($6.04).

The internet prices in neighboring countries are much lower compared to Afghanistan. In Pakistan, 50 GB of the Internet is sold for 300 Afghanis ($3.30), and in Iran, 10 GB of the Internet is sold for 100 Afghanis ($1.10)

Afghanistan imports its internet from Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan through optical fiber, and the Taliban-run Afghan Telecom telecommunications company is responsible for importing internet from abroad and distributing it to domestic private companies in the country.