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Wed 16 Sep 2009 04:34 PM

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Batelco rejects regulator claims over int'l lines

Telco says it complied with legal obligations on access to Bahrain's int'l landing station.


Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco)

rejected on Wednesday claims by the country's telecoms regulator it had prevented other operators from accessing the country's international data lines.

Alan Horne, director of Bahrain's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), told Reuters on Monday the regulator had issued a fine that would be in the single-digit million Bahraini dinars range.

Batelco

said in a statement issued on Wednesday it had at all times complied with its legal obligations regarding access to Bahrain's international landing station.

Telecoms operators and their regulators around the world have battled it out as regulators, as a result of market liberalisation, provide new players with access to an incumbents' infrastructure.

Batelco

said the TRA had approved in 2004 a fifteen-year contract the company signed with the operator of the landing station, as a result of which the company invested $50 million in the infrastructure.

"(...) now the TRA is seeking to arbitrarily change a commercial contract and mandate new arrangements in an unjustified manner",
Batelco

Chairman Sheikh Hamad bin Abdulla al-Khalifa said in the statement.

TRA had said the landing station for a submarine cable, Bahrain's only connection to the international phone network, was located on
Batelco

's premises and that the company had refused to supply space to other operators to gain access.

TRA said the fine could increase or decrease depending on
Batelco

's response to an order to provide access to other operators, for which it has 30 days.

Batelco

also said on Wednesday it was in talks with two consortia over additional international cables but that the draft order issued by TRA and the fine were no incentive to go ahead with these investments. (Reuters)

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