Bahrain: Telecommunications market to be fully open to competition
The Bahraini Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) Wednesday announced that the kingdom's telecommunications sector will be fully open to competition from foreign investors with the availability of local and international fixed voice and data services licenses on July 1, 2004.
According to General Director of the TRA, Mr. A. Andreas Avgousti, "We are proud to become the first telecoms market in the region to be fully open for competition. In reaching this important milestone, the Authority has worked diligently to lay the foundation for the region's most dynamic, competitive and well-regulated marketplace. Based on the principles of transparency and accountability, we have established a framework that provides both current and future market operators and subscribers with clear rights, obligations and long-term visibility. We are confident these efforts will see the promised benefits of competition effectively delivered to Bahrain and enable investors and market operators to thrive and capitalize on the opportunities both here and across the regional markets as a whole."
Efforts to liberalise the market began in October 2002 with the passing of the Kingdom's Telecommunications Law, and Bahrain has since put in place an environment conducive to the attraction of investment and capable of supporting multiple operators.
The Kingdom's telecommunications sector, much like its renowned financial services industry, is characterised by a world-class regulatory structure on par with that of any fully developed international market.
In total, Bahrain's telecoms sector is now comprised of some nine operating segments, for which licenses have become available over the past 18 months. Currently, the TRA is awarding licenses in eight of these areas as follows: National Fixed Service Licenses; International Service Licenses; Internet Service Provider (ISP) Licenses; Value Added Services (VAS) Licenses; International Facilities Licenses and; Licenses in the further radio based areas of VSAT, Paging and PAMR.
With the exception of mobile, an area which will see only two operators until at least 2005 following the granting of the second mobile license in April 2003, there are no limitations on the number of licenses to be awarded in each area. In addition, operators may opt to utilise licenses for the provision of services to specific market segments.
For example, they can combine or bundle one or more products or services to meet sector-specific needs such as those in financial services, e-learning or healthcare, to name but a few.
Further, the licensing application process and fees have been established with an eye toward encouraging participation in the sector, where growing consumer demand is coupled with the ever increasing needs of Bahrain's business community characterised by more than 460 financial institutions, numerous large-scale real estate and tourism projects and the planned $US 2 billion Bahrain Financial Harbour. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)