Mobile network ecosystem

Based on the Speedtest provided by the American web service Ookla, the average speed of Internet mobile connection is 22.07 Mbp (April 2020), ranking 83rd in the global index and recording a slight improvement in the speed. 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 and in recent years some 4G LTE infrastructures have been deployed. Overall, Damascus has good coverage, but services in other locations are far more limited (also in important urban locations, such as Aleppo, Qamishli and Homs). 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. Remote areas usually rely heavily on expensive satellite communications. 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. However, due to the recent plummet in the value of Syrian pound against the US dollar and the consequent increase in prices of basics such as fuel, also hours of electricity from private generators have been reduced. 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 has enabled the ETC to improve the telecommunications infrastructure in the country. Currently it has sites in and around Syria (Aleppo, Qamishli, Dayr al-Zawr Tartus, Homs, Hama, Damascus and in the neighbouring countries: Beirut, Amman, Ankara, Antakya, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa) and three new humanitarian hubs are planned in Tabqa, Suwayda, Dar‘a and Raqqa.