Keeping in Touch in Libya
Libya may have been the first African country to reach 100 percent mobile phone penetration, but the nation’s poor telecommunication infrastructure still limits an expat's ability of keeping in touch in Libya.
A large portion of Libyan Internet access is still relegated to the slow dawdle of dial-up. Additionally, the telecommunication system is state-owned, and the service is notoriously poor.
Internet Service Provision in Libya
Both the Internet and telecommunications domains in Libya are largely micro-managed by government through Libya Telecom and Technology (LTT), a semi-private communications company. Other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) include AlFalak and Modern World Telecom, but these are overshadowed for the most part by LTT’s pseudo-monopoly.
LTT has been the primary communications provider in Libya since 1997, and currently offers Internet services in dial-up, ADSL, broadband and satellite forms.
The only document required for opening an account is a copy of your ID or your passport. Though ADSL tends to be the cheapest and fastest connection, some expats have reported situations where the signal is not accessible within homes and villas. WiMAX is a pricier alternative, but also has the added benefit of larger bandwidth allowances and the convenience of mobility.
Telecommunications in Libya
It is also recommended that expats install a wireless-based telephone line rather than a landline. This facility can be used in a prepaid manner, where phone cards are purchased with designated amounts of credit, and calls can be made abroad at cheap rates. Using a prepaid card allows expats to avoid the hefty and usually unwarranted phone bills that tend to arrive otherwise.
Prepaid cards can be purchased in phone shops or in local supermarkets.
Censorship in Libya
Much of the filtering that takes place in Libya is the result of self-censorship.
The government does not play an active role in filtering sites that deal with social, security or Internet tool topics. However, political opposition sites and pages that offer critical evaluations of the president do undergo censorship. Official rules cite that all Libyan domains “must not contain obscene, scandalous, indecent, or contrary to Libyan law or Islamic morality words, phrases nor abbreviations”.
This type of filtering does not affect an expat’s ability to communicate via applications like Skype, messaging and webcams.
Internet users have also reported that many Internet cafes closely monitor their users, as a result of security personnel that have shut down businesses in some situations.