Batelco, STC in hot water over Asia call charges

Bahrain regulator accuses telcos of anti-competitive pricing on calls to Asia
Batelco, STC in hot water over Asia call charges
Batelco and STC have been accused of offering anti-competitive pricing on calls to Asia
By Reuters
Mon 05 Sep 2011 05:02 PM

Bahrain's telecoms regulator has issued notices to Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) and Saudi Telecom Co unit Viva, accusing them of anti-competitive pricing on international calls to Asia.

The two operators have until Oct 13 to respond, after which the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) will decide whether to impose any penalties, a TRA spokesman said.

"The notices allege the operators' pricing constituted an abuse of dominance in the international mobile telecommunications market," it said in an emailed statement.

"TRA believes that such pricing destroys the market's forces and hinders competition between operators by reducing the opportunities for fair competition in the market, and harms the interests of consumer in the long run."

The notice relates to tariffs to several Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh. Non-Bahrainis make up more than a third of Bahrain's estimated 1.2 million people, with a significant minority coming from Asia.

Bahrain has three mobile carriers: Batelco, Viva and Kuwait's Zain, while there are more than a dozen companies who sell prepaid cards for international calls.

Batelco and STC were not immediately available for comment.

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