By Richard Agnew
Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has continued its liberalisation programme by officially making licences available for suppliers of value added services (VAS) and internet service providers (ISPs) in the Kingdom.
Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has continued its liberalisation programme by officially making licences available for suppliers of value added services (VAS) and internet service providers (ISPs) in the Kingdom.In accordance with Bahrain’s telecommunications decree law no. 48, which came into effect in October last year, the move will see the TRA accepting applications from interested parties and granting class licences to all candidates that qualify.Both sets of licences will be valid for 15 years, while the TRA says it will charge a nominal fee for them to cover administration costs. The authority has published guidance forms and application forms on its website.“The TRA is pleased to make available licenses that will allow for the creation of a competitive and dynamic marketplace capable of bringing new and innovative world-class services to customers in Bahrain,” said Dr Mohammed Alghatam, the authority’s chairman. The move forms part of the TRA’s ongoing plan to open up the telecoms sector in Bahrain. Kuwait-based operator MTC-Vodafone won a tender to enter the Kingdom’s mobile market in April this year, while very small aperture terminal (VSAT), paging, national and international voice and data provision and public messaging radio licences are expected to be issued in 2004.Bahrain’s cabinet also recently gave the green light for an internet exchange to be set up in the Kingdom to manage connections between the ISPs that gain licences and aggregate international traffic. The government will provide necessary funding to support the venture for the first year, before a licence to operate the exchange will be handed to a not-for-profit entity.“In addition to the substantial consumer benefits that we expect will culminate in the months ahead, we also view the availability of these licenses as a significant entrepreneurial opportunity for businesses and individuals in Bahrain to capitalise on the economic benefits and prospects afforded by the introduction of competition into these two rapidly expanding areas of the telecoms sector,” added Dr. Algatham.