Third GSM licence looms

25 June 2004
The Communications & Information Technology Ministry will launch a public tender for a third mobile licence, rather than inviting selected operators to bid, and plans to issue prequalification documents by mid-July. The move comes ahead of the expiry of the exclusivity rights of the incumbent operators, Sabaphoneand Spacetel Yemen, in mid-August.

One of the potential bidders, local fixed-line operator TeleYemen, has now withdrawn from the process. The cabinet resolution that decreed the public tender process for the third licence was accompanied by a mandate for the state-owned company to upgrade its existing analogue wireless system, in effect creating a fourth operator.

TeleYemen has completed the process of transferring management control from the UK's Cable & Wireless, which withdrew both from running the company and from a 51 per cent equity stake in late 2003, to France Telecom. The equity stake was transferred to the Public Telecommunications Corporation. The local mobile market holds great potential, with only about 700,000 subscribers out of a population of 19 million (MEED 13:2:04).

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