Vodafone is building a 3G broadband network in Albania, with Nokia Siemens Networks providing the infrastructure.

Albania, which has some of the lowest penetration of fixed line telephones in Europe, had 4.1 million mobile subscribers in 2009, according to data from the International Telecommunications Union. That is a penetration rate of 131 percent, comparable to Finland's 144 percent.

But even though only one in 10 Albanians have a fixed-line phone, the number of Internet users has grown dramatically since the fall of Communism in 1992. In 2000, the ITU estimates, there were only 3,500 internet subscribers in the whole country. That grew to 105,000 in 2009.

Albania enjoys one of the highest mobile subscriber growth rates in Eastern Europe. This growth will be spurred further by the launch of 3G services, said Haris Broumidis, chief executive officer of Vodafone Albania, in a statement. To maintain our leadership, we are pioneering the country's first 3G services. Vodafone is Albania's second biggest mobile operator, after Albania Mobile Communications. Other mobile phone companies are Eagle Mobile and Plus.

Under the four-year deal, Nokia Siemens Networks will also provide consulting, civil works support, network planning and optimization, training and maintenance services.

The 3G network will allow the operator to offer broadband services, which adequately match its portfolio in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner, said George Angelis, head of the Vodafone customer team at Nokia Siemens Networks, in a statement.

Nokia Siemens Networks says its 3G base stations are 20 percent of the size and weight of traditional network equipment, and consume over 70 percent less energy than previous models. In addition, Nokia Siemens Networks will replace the existing GSM radio network provided by Vodafone Albania's previous vendor.