|Economy of Albania|
Telecommunications in Albania include radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet.
Until 1990, Albania was extremely isolated and controlled, and installation and maintenance of a modern system of international and domestic telecommunications was precluded. Callers previously needed operator assistance even to make domestic long-distance calls.
As of 1992, Albania's telephone density was the lowest in Europe, at 1.4 units for every 100 inhabitants. Tirana accounted for about 13,000 of the country's 42,000 direct lines; Durrës, the main port city, ranked second with 2,000 lines; the rest were concentrated in Shkodër, Elbasan, Vlorë, Gjirokastër, and other towns. At one time, each village had a telephone but during the land redistribution of the early 1990s peasants knocked out service to about 1,000 villages by removing telephone wire for fencing. As of 1992, most of Albania's telephones were obsolete, low-quality East European models, some dating from the 1940s; workers at a Tirana factory assembled a small number of telephones from Italian parts.
In the early 1990s, Albania had 240 microwave circuits carrying international calls to Italy and 180 to Greece. The Albanian telephone company had also installed two U-20 Italtel digital exchanges. The exchange in Tirana handled international, national, and local calls; the Durrës exchange handled only local calls. Two United States firms handled direct-dial calls from the United States to Tirana.
At present[when?] the land lines are overloaded, and it is difficult to receive a telephone number. As a result, the number of mobile phones has skyrocketed in the bigger cities.
The state broadcaster in Albania, Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSh, Albanian Radio and TV), operates national radio and television networks. It has competition from scores of privately owned stations. According to a 2002 survey the broadcaster with the largest audience is TV Klan.[needs update]
Television is the most influential medium. Many Albanian's watch Italian and Greek stations via terrestrial reception.
The BBC World Service (103.9 MHz in the capital, Tirana), Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale, and the Voice of America are available.
See also: Telephone numbers in Albania
Providers with national coverage:
Internet broadband services were initiated in 2005, but growth has been slow. Internet cafes are popular in Tirana and have started to spread outside the capital.
Eutelsat satellite broadband is being used to provide free public Internet access in rural Albanian post offices, schools, and local government offices.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without appropriate legal authority. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. However, there are reports that the government and businesses influence and pressure the media. The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, and the government generally respects these prohibitions in practice.