Inauguration of new telephone exchange

Fifty years ago, Lebanon was the most affluent state in the Middle East, and the fulcrum of the entire region. Major investments were under way, and funds were available for comprehensive extension of the telephone network, including the large-scale adoption of automatic exchanges in the early 1950s. Ericsson's 500-point switching system was installed, and a technical office was established simultaneously. In 1957, Camille Chamoun, the Lebanese President of the day, inaugurated a 6,000-line automatic exchange in Tripoli.

The network was steadily extended up to the early 1970s, employing crossbar switching and code switching systems in addition to 500-point switching. The technical office became a subsidiary in the early 1970s "Société Libanaise des Téléphones Ericsson" with responsibility for sales and installation. In 1997, it changed its name to Ericsson Lebanon.

Order bookings declined when civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1975, but the authorities were determined to ensure that telecom system continued to operate. Ericsson delivered telecom equipment to Lebanon throughout the war, which lasted for more than 15 years, and retained its local subsidiary. In 1980-81, for example, Ericsson received orders for international AXE exchanges, cable, network equipment and other hardware.

Much of the national infrastructure was destroyed in the war, however, including the telecom network. As a result, rebuilding and extension of the network involved the installation of a large number of AXE lines. Ericsson, Siemens and Alcatel were each allocated a section of the country.

In 1995, the GSM network commenced operations in Lebanon. Ericsson supplied equipment for one of the two national networks, and received an initial order for up to 80,000 subscribers. Subsequently, the number of subscribers has increased steadily, and Ericsson also has a satisfactory share of mobile phone sales in Lebanon.

Mobile system, base station RBS, 1990s

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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