A shortlist of the preferred bidders is expected to be announced in the next two weeks and the newly-formed Telecommuni- cations Regulatory Authority (TRA) intends to formally award the licence in April, after which the preferred bidder will register as a fully-domiciled Bahraini entity. Among the regional and international operators to have bid are the UK’s Vodafone, with Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC)of Kuwait; Lebanon’s Libancell, through its local joint venture, Bahrain Cell; and National Mobile Telecommunications Company (Wataniya), through its local joint venture, Wataniya Telecom Bahrain.

Under the terms of the 15-year concession, the new operator will be awarded a licence to offer GSM services throughout Bahrain and will be allowed to interconnect with the existing fixed and mobile infrastructure of Batelco. The winner of the licence will also have the option to develop 3G services, providing Batelco does not introduce its own network within nine months (Telecoms, MEED Special Report, 10:1:03, pages 33-34).