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Thu 4 Oct 2007 02:27 PM

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Bahrain mobile decision set for year-end

Bahrain's TRA expected to make decision on whether to award a third mobile licence in the Kingdom in December.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Bahrain has said it expects to make a decision on whether or not to issue a third GSM licence in December.

A spokesperson for the regulator said the TRA had not yet committed to plans to introduce a third mobile network operator, but that this is one of the points under consideration in its strategic review.

The results of the review would be ready in December, the spokesperson said.

The review covers a number of areas in mobile service provision, including the possibility of allowing Mobile Virtual Network Operators in the Kingdom.

Bahrain has two mobile operators at present - incumbent Batelco, which has the lion's share of the market, and Zain Bahrain, formerly MTC Vodafone, which has roughly a third of the Kingdom's mobile subscribers.

Mena Telecom, a subsidiary of Kuwait Finance House Bahrain, recently said it would be interested in bidding for the third cellular licence should it be offered.

"We are definitely keen to apply for the third mobile licence in Bahrain as part of our strategy to enhance the business base of the company," Abdulhakeem Al Khayyat, chairman of Mena Telecom told the Bahrain Tribune.

Mena Telecom won a licence to offer national fixed wireless services in Bahrain in 2006.

Bahrain's mobile penetration rate is between 110% and 115%, according to Delta Partners.

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