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Telecommunications in Tanzania

Telecommunications in Tanzania include radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet available in mainland Tanzania and the semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago.


  • Regulation and licensing 1
  • Radio and television 2
  • Telephones 3
  • Internet 4
    • Internet service providers 4.1
    • Data operators 4.2
    • Censorship and surveillance 4.3
  • Freedom of speech 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Regulation and licensing

In 2005, mainland Tanzania, but not the semiautonomous Zanzibar archipelago, modified its licensing system for electronic communications, modelling it on the approach successfully pioneered in Malaysia in the late 1990s where traditional "vertical" licenses (the right to operate a telecom or a broadcasting network, and right to provide services on that network) are replaced by "horizontal" licenses (the right to operate telecom and broadcasting networks, with a separate license required to provide services on each network). Called the "Converged Licensing Framework (CLF)", this reform was the first of its kind put into practice on the African continent, and allows investors to concentrate on their area of expertise (i.e. network facility, network services, application services, and content services) across a larger number of previously separate sectors (i.e. telecommunications, broadcasting, Internet). This reform should, among other things, facilitate the arrival of telephone services over cable television networks, television services over telecommunications networks, and Internet services over all types of networks.[1]

Under the Converged Licensing Framework four categories of license are available:[1]

  • Network facility, the provision of any element or combination of physical infrastructure used principally for, or in connection with, the provision of Content services and other Application services, but not including customer premise equipment;
  • Network service, a service for carrying information in the form of speech or other sound, data, text or images, by means of guided or unguided electromagnetic energy, but not including services provided solely on the customer side of the network boundary;
  • Application service, the reselling of electronic communication services to end users; and
  • Content service, a service offered for sound, data, text or images whether still or moving except where transmitted on private communication.

At the end of 2013 there were:[2]

  • 21 network facility operators: 8 international and national, 11 national, and 2 regional;
  • 17 network service operators: 8 international and national, 6 national, and 3 regional;
  • 91 application service operators: 1 international, 15 international and national, 62 national, 11 regional, and 2 district;
  • 85 radio content service operators: 6 national + commercial, 10 regional + commercial, 7 regional + non-commercial, 30 district + commercial, and 29 district + non-commercial;
  • 30 television content service operators: 5 national + commercial, 4 regional + commercial, 1 regional + non-commercial, 6 district + commercial, and 17 district + non-commercial.

A complete list of licensed operators and contractors is available from the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) website.[2]

Radio and television

  • A state-owned national radio station and more than 40 privately owned radio stations are in operation (2007).[3]
  • A state-owned TV station and multiple privately owned TV stations are in operation (2007).[3]
  • The transmissions of several international broadcasters are available (2007).[3]

There are government restrictions on broadcasting in tribal languages.[4]

The semiautonomous Zanzibari government controls the content of all public and private radio and television broadcasts in its islands. Even in the case of state television broadcast from the mainland, there was a delay in the feed, allowing Zanzibari censors to intervene. However, Zanzibari radio stations operate relatively independently, often reading the content of national dailies, including articles critical of the Zanzibari government.[4]


Mobile telephone services were usually available only in urban areas, but efforts to provide nationwide coverage are improving the situation.[7] Competition in Tanzania's telecommunication sector is expected to get stiffer after the country's regulatory authority licensed four more cellular phone service providers in 2006 to bring the number to ten.[8]

Mobile phone companies

Some of the mobile phone companies operating in Tanzania are:[2]


EASSy is blue, TEAMS is green, and SEACOM is red. Click on map to enlarge.
SEACOM-Network Map. Click on map to enlarge.
  • Top-level domain: .tz[3]
  • Internet users: 6.1 million users, 51st in the world; 13.1 percent of the population, 161st in the world (2012);[9][10]
  • Fixed broadband: 3,753 subscriptions, 164th in the world; less than 0.05% of the population, 187th in the world (2012).[9][11]
  • Wireless broadband: 698,531 subscriptions, 81st in the world; 1.5% of the population, 130th in the world (2012).[12]
  • Internet hosts: 26,074 hosts, 110th in the world (2012).[3]
  • IPv4: 846,152 addresses allocated as of 27 November 2014, 0.02 percent of the world total, 17.9 addresses per 1,000 people (based on the 2014 population estimate of 47.4 million).[13][14]

Internet services have been available since 1995, but there was no international fiber connectivity available until 2009. Before then, connectivity to the rest of the world, including to neighboring countries, was obtained using satellite networks. The SEACOM and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System submarine fiber cable projects were implemented in July 2009 and July 2010, respectively, and brought higher speed Internet connectivity to Tanzania with lower latency and lower cost.[15][16] This resulted in more than an eight-fold improvement in download speeds from between 90 and 200 kbit/s in mid to late 2008 to between 1.5 and 1.8 Mbit/s in late 2009 with further improvements to between 3.6 and 4.2 Mbit/s in 2013.[17]

Internet service providers

Some of the Internet Service Providers operating in Tanzania are:[2]

  • Africa Online
  • Afsat Communications Tanzania Limited
  • Arusha Node Marie
  • Benson Online
  • Cats-Net
  •, rural based ISP.
  • Kicheko
  • Raha
  • SimbaNet
  • Spicenet
  • Tansat
  • Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL).
  • University of Dar es Salaam Computing Centre
  • ZanLink

Data operators

Some of the data operators in Tanzania are:[2]

  • Afsat Communications Tanzania Limited
  • Alink Telecom Tanzania Limited, formerly DATEL.
  • SatCom Networks Africa Limited
  • Six Telecoms Company Limited
  • Tansat
  • Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL).
  • SimbaNet
  • Spicenet

Censorship and surveillance

There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet; however, the government monitors websites that criticize the government. Police also monitor the Internet to combat illegal activities.[4]

Freedom of speech

The constitution provides for freedom of speech, but does not explicitly provide for freedom of the press. A permit is required for reporting on police or prison activities, and journalists need special permission to attend meetings in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. Anyone publishing information accusing a Zanzibari representative of involvement in illegal activities is liable to a fine of not less than 250,000 Tanzanian shillings (TZS) ($158), three years' imprisonment, or both. Nothing in the law specifies whether this penalty stands if the allegation is proven true. Media outlets often practice self-censorship to avoid conflict with the government.[4]

The law generally prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence without a search warrant, but the government does not consistently respect these prohibitions. It is widely believed that security forces monitor telephones and correspondence of some citizens and foreign residents. The actual nature and extent of this practice is unknown.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Licensing Information", Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Licensed Operators and Contractors", Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Communications: Tanzania", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 7 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e , Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, United States Department of State, 10 April 2013, accessed 28 November 2014Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Tanzania
  5. ^ Dialing Procedures (International Prefix, National (Trunk) Prefix and National (Significant) Number) (in Accordance with ITY-T Recommendation E.164 (11/2010)), Annex to ITU Operational Bulletin No. 994-15.XII.2011, International Telecommunication Union (ITU, Geneva), 15 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  6. ^ "SEACOM Network". Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Tanzania: Tz Okays More Cellular Firms", Deogratius Joseph, AllAfrica, 22 May 2006, (subscription required). Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  9. ^ a b Calculated using penetration rate and population data from "Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2012", Population data, International Programs, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 26 June 2013
  10. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
  11. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  13. ^ Allocation of IP Addresses by Country, Country IP Blocks, accessed 27 November 2014
  14. ^ 2014 Tanzania population estimate, Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics, accessed 20 October 2014
  15. ^ SEACOM Knowledge Centre FAQ . Archived version, Internet Archive, 23 April 2011. Archived December 5, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "EASSy Enters Commercial Service", EASSy, 5 August 2010, accessed 28 November 2014
  17. ^ "Download speed graph for Tanzania, September 2008 to present", Broadband Performance, Google Public Data Explorer. Retrieved 23 January 2014.

Further reading

External links

  • Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority
  • tzNIC, registry for the .tz domain
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