Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT)-backed telco Afghan Telecom (Aftel) has launched 2G and 3G services in four new provinces this month, expanding its coverage to 18 of the nation’s 34 administrative regions. Aftel, which offers its GSM and W-CDMA services under the Salaam banner, inaugurated its network in Bamyan province earlier this week, following on the heels of similar launches in Faryab, Samangan and Sar-e Pol in early May. Speaking at the launch ceremony in Bamyan, deputy ICT minister Wahbudin Sadaat commented that MCIT aims to drive improvements in service quality and reduce prices for end users. To that end, fixed line incumbent Aftel entered the wireless market to increase competition and help drive down costs. Sadaat added that Aftel has invested USD65 million of its own revenues into the deployment of its new wireless platform.