Afghanistan: Frustration mounts as low-quality internet services disappoint people

The subpar quality of telecommunication networks in Afghanistan is causing discontent among residents, particularly workers who highlight the inadequacy of services despite their considerable cost.

Citizens across various provinces emphasize that the internet packages provided by telecommunication networks fail to meet their needs, exacerbating the challenges faced by Afghan citizens, especially those in remote areas with challenging terrain, in accessing reliable and affordable telecommunications services.

Horia, a resident of Kabul, expressed dissatisfaction, stating, “There are four telecommunication networks in Afghanistan, yet regrettably, they fall short in delivering quality services to the people. Activating the internet comes at a significant cost, and while there may be a reliable antenna in one area, the service is lacking in another. Our dissatisfaction is particularly pronounced in the capital, Kabul, where the quality of internet services leaves much to be desired.”

Common grievances include high costs and poor service quality, with allegations of companies exploiting opaque billing practices. Economic analyst Qais Mohammadi remarked, “Not only is the quality and price of telecommunications services in Afghanistan different from neighboring countries but in many cases, there are ways for companies to charge people without providing good services.”

Telecommunications giant MTN’s announcement of its exit from Afghanistan by the end of December, as part of a strategic shift towards more promising markets, has added to concerns about potential economic repercussions for Afghanistan. Reports suggest that the company will hand over its office in Kabul to a Lebanon-based company.

“The shutdown of the telecommunications network in Afghanistan, especially for the people, will deliver a severe economic blow. Despite the fact that this telecommunications company has not been providing services in Afghanistan as it should, the closure represents a substantial loss for both the country and its society,” voiced Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Kabul.

Concerns also persist regarding the lack of transparency in tax collection for telecommunications services. Despite the Taliban’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology claiming significant reductions in internet and call rates, Afghan citizens dispute the accuracy of these assertions. The ministry reported a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in call rates and a 30 percent reduction in internet services, but people argue that the claims are baseless. The Taliban has asserted that there are currently 23 million active SIM cards in use across Afghanistan.