Mobile operator Wataniya Palestine is focusing its efforts on launching its services in the Gaza Strip as it faces increasing difficulties with the Israeli authorities over securing the third generation (3G) frequencies.

“The Unesco decision to recognise Palestine is making things much more difficult, but I believe that it is a phase. There will have to be an economic improvement initiative drawn up and agreed by all, I think this is the way forward,” says Bassam Hannoun, chief executive of Wataniya Palestine, while speaking on the sidelines of the Arab Advisors Smart Handheld Device Summit in Dubai.

The company has already invested $25m in rolling out its 3G network in Gaza as part of its overall $300m investment plan.

“The first milestone is Gaza. We have not launched our services there yet, but we are planning to launch in 2012. Our outlook for the next year is to keep growingmarket share and revenue, but Gaza will be a key milestone,” says Hannoun.

The operator, which has a 3G licence is still unable to provide 3G services in the Palestinian territories because Israel’s Ministry of Telecommunications has refused to grant it the required spectrum.

“We have seen no actual results, but the lobbying and pressure has been maintained,” says Hannoun.

The company is hoping to launch its 3G services by 2013.