Jordanian government confident another cellphone operator will boost competition
A decision to make Umniah Jordan's fourth cellphone service operator will boost competition in the domestic market, lower prices and improve services, the government said Sunday.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Fawaz Zu'bi told reporters that this competition would be in the interest of the public who would benefit from the lower prices and better offers.
According to the Jordan Times, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) granted Umniah the full licence to begin services as the third GSM operator in the Kingdom.
Umniah, expected to launch operations next year, had been vying for the licence with Lebanon's Investcom. Jordanian investors, mainly former Fastlink CEO Michael Dagher, and Kuwait's Al Ghanim Group are investing JD250 million in Umniah Telecom and Technologies, technically the fourth mobile service operator in the Kingdom after the two GSM serrvices - Fastlink and Mobilecom - and the radio-trunking iDEN operator Xpress.
Fastlink believes that the local market cannot take a fourth mobile service operator and has along with MobileCom offered to pay JD88 million to delay Umniah's licence for another three to five years, according to Fastlink's Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Saqer.
But the TRC did not negotiate and offered the licence to Umniah, he said, according to the newspaper.
TRC President Muna Nijim said her commmission expects none of the mobile service operators to lose since the market can absorb another operator.
In 10 years, the treasury is estimated to collect JD2.6 billion from the four firms, Nijim told a joint press conference with Zu'bi.
According to recent estimates, the total number of mobile phone subscribers in Jordan exceeds 1,300,000 with Fastlink accounting for 70 per cent of the market's subscription, while MobileCom has 30 per cent.
X-press said it aims to acquire 10 per cent of the market, while Umniah aims to increase the total penetration rate from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. Nijim said the TRC expects the market penetration rate to increase to 40 per cent in ten years.
Last week, 69 deputies sent a letter to Lower House speaker urging the government not to licence a new mobile service provider without the Cabinet's approval and provided that the House is informed of the legal procedures involved. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)