Bahrain mobile operator Batelco has invested $70m in Jordanian subsidiary Umniah to purchase a third generation (3G) licence.

The services will be launched between the second and third quarter of this year. Jordan’s two other mobile operators Kuwaiti-owned Zain Jordan and France Telecom’s Orange Jordan already have 3G services.

“With the kingdom setting its sights on becoming the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region’s ICT [information and communications technology] hub, it is paramount that we empower industry players to embrace the latest technological developments and advancements in the field,” says Basem al-Rousan, Jordan’s Information and Communications Technology Minister. “We feel that Umniah’s investment in 3G is a step towards greater industry readiness to take on the challenge of driving the innovation curve in the region.”

Batelco has a 96 per cent stake in Umniah, which now has more than 2.3 million subscribers with a 31 per cent market share.

The Batelco Group recorded a net profit of $212m for 2011, a decrease of 8 per cent since 2010. Revenues declined 4 per cent from $902.7m in 2010 to $867.4m at the end of 2011. About 30 per cent of the revenues came from the group’s international operations.

The group’s subscriber base increased 20 per cent year-on-year to more than 11 million, of which 8 per cent came from broadband subscribers.