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Wed 7 Dec 2011 06:32 PM

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Bahrain regulator proposes cuts to telecom charges

TRA issues draft order setting new charges in bid to improve competition, lower prices

Bahrain regulator proposes cuts to telecom charges
Bahrains telecom regulator is seeking to reduce charges imposed by Batelco to its rivals.

Bahrain's telecoms regulator on Wednesday said it had issued a draft order setting new charges in a bid to improve competition and lower prices to consumers.

Bahrain's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said the draft order sets "fair and reasonable charges" foraccess and interconnection services offered by Batelco to its rivals in the Gulf kingdom.

Mohamed Bubashait, the TRA's general director, said in a statement: "A sensible wholesale offer to other licensed operators (OLOs) is a key regulatory instrument supporting competition and choice in the telecommunications sector.

"The charges set in this draft Order are evidence-based, fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory and allow Batelco to earn a fair and reasonable return on its investment."

Following the review of Batelco's reference offer submission, the TRA was not satisfied that the proposed charges were in line with the Telecommunications Law, the statement added.

Consequently, the regulator TRA has issued a draft order setting revised charges, which now goes out to public consultation.

Under the new draft, charges for bitstream and wholesale DSL will decrease by between 2-26 percent.

"This decrease will support the provision of cheaper and faster broadband offers in the retail market," the TRA said.

Interconnection links charges will fall by between 50-70 percent while charges for domestic leased lines are set to decline by up to 40 percent.

Bubashait added: "The proposed substantial reductions of key wholesale services will ultimately translate into better propositions at the retail level for retail customers and businesses."

The TRA said public comments on the draft must be submitted by December 28 and then a final decision will be made on the charges.

Batelco, the first telco to launch in Bahrain, is now in competition with Zain and Viva.

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