By Andy Sambidge
Bahrain telco says $13.89m fine has been reduced following arbitration process
Telecoms operator Batelco said on Wednesday that a long-running dispute with Bahrain's regulator relating to giving rivals access to international cable facilities, has been resolved through an arbitration process.
The telco said in a statement that a BD5.238m ($13.89m) fine imposed by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on Batelco back in 2009 had been reduced to BD750,000.
Group CEO Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa said: "We are pleased that this matter has been finally resolved through an independent international arbitration panel and in a transparent manner where all parties involved presented their arguments.
"The fact that the fine has been reduced supports Batelco's original position that such a breach should not have attracted a punitive fine as originally imposed by the TRA."
He said this was the first arbitration case carried out in Bahrain under the Telecommunications Law to have reached a conclusion.
"The proceedings raised the standard of accountability and transparency in decision making for the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, which is of benefit to the telecommunications sector and the Kingdom as a whole," he said.
"Batelco now looks forward to continue working closely with the TRA to ensure the kingdom's infrastructure retains its global competitiveness and continues to enable the economic growth and development of Bahrain," he added.
In 2009, Bahrain's telecoms regulator fined Batelco for preventing other operators from accessing the country's international data lines.
At issue had been access to the landing station for a submarine cable - Bahrain’s only connection to the international network - which is located on Batelco's premises.
The TRA claimed Batelco had refused to supply space to other operators to gain access to the landing station and regarded reasons cited by Batelco for doing so as unjustified.