Mobile network ecosystem
Mobile telephones were introduced in Afghanistan publicly in 2002. According to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, as of 2018, 19 million people are using mobile phones out of a population of approximately 32 million. There are six telecommunication companies, five of which are private and one with mixed private and government shares. Although telecommunication companies claim that the number of active account/SIM cards is almost 22 million, but this is because half of the users own more than one SIM card.
The price of communication is expensive compared to neighboring countries. It is eight times more expensive than Pakistan and India and ten times more expensive than Iran. The quality, comparing with the above-mentioned countries is the same. In some instances, it could be bad, but in general it is the same. Internet 3G system is available through mobiles. Recently number of telecom companies are providing 4G services and only in Kabul and nearby provinces.
Afghanistan is a mountainous country, but almost all residential areas are covered by mobile phone networks. The only issue in coverage is in the areas not controlled by the government, such as large portions of the Kunduz province and some parts of the Baghlan province in the North and parts of the provinces of Zabul, Helmand and Urozgan in the South. There are also other places where the government does not control all of the territory. In most of these areas mobile networks are working from 8am to 8pm while during the night and early morning they are off.