Mobile network ecosystem
The crisis in Syria continues to impact the reliability of telecommunication services in the country. Blackouts to Internet and telephony services are not uncommon and mobile network coverage has been impacted due to extensive damage to the telecommunication infrastructure as a result of the war, although improvements have taken place during 2018. In addition to damaged infrastructure as a consequence of the conflict, regular power outages occur, which impact the entire communication network in Syria at various degrees, depending on the areas. In fact, in the remaining opposition pocket of Greater Idlib (including few districts of Hama, Latakia and Idlib), power shortages are more frequent than elsewhere. Also in eastern Syria under the de facto Kurdish control, the countryside often experiences more shortages than the few urban contexts, in terms of basic services, including Internet and electricity. However, these structural problems also affect depressed and marginalised areas in governmental Syria.
Electricity mains belonging to the Syrian governmental grid are usually run on a schedule of on/off hours. As a result of this instability, some people and most of the UN hubs and offices rely on petrol generators to maintain a continuous power supply. The global aid network Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) has been operating in Syria since 2013 to provide security telecommunications and Internet connectivity services and related trainings to the humanitarian community responding to the crisis.
Only in late 2018, ETC received permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior to import certain security telecommunications equipment, which will enable the ETC to improve the telecommunications infrastructure in the country. Currently it has sites in and around Syria (Aleppo, Qamishli, Tartus, Homs, Damascus and in the neighbouring countries: Beirut, Amman, Ankara, Antakya, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa) and three new humanitarian hubs are planned in Dayr al-Zawr, Raqqa and Hama.