Bahrain opens up GSM market

20 December 2002

The newly-established Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is preparing to issue by the end of December expressions of interest to international companies for Bahrain's second GSM licence. The invitation will also be issued by Intercai Mondialeof the UK on behalf of the authority (MEED 18:1:01).

The award of the licence, expected in April 2003, will effectively bring an end to the monopoly enjoyed by Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco) over a small but lucrative market. There are already 300,000 GSM subscribers in Bahrain, accounting for nearly half of the population. The authority was established as the independent regulator for the sector on 23 October.

'There are no restrictions on the nature or nationality of applicants, and inward investment will be welcomed by Bahrain,' said Mohammed Alghatam, the chairman of the authority. 'Clearly, a combination of local capital and foreign expertise may prove attractive to some applicants.'

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