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Sun 27 May 2007 04:00 AM

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Curtain closes on Qatar mobile licence pre-qualification

Pre-qualification for the second mobile licence in Qatar, the last GCC state to introduce market liberalisation in the telecoms sector closes today with the country’s regulator predicting that the proposition poses a lucrative offer.

Pre-qualification for the second mobile licence in Qatar, the last GCC state to introduce market liberalisation in the telecoms sector closes today with the country’s regulator predicting that the proposition poses a lucrative offer.

In an earlier interview with CommsMEA, the country’s regulator ictQATAR stated that all successful applicants would be forwarded to the final auction stages of the process, which is set for completion in late June.

“We will publish the final mobile application process in late June, or early July of 2007, and following a consultation process the announcement of the eventual winner will take place in Autumn 2007,” said William Fagan, executive director of ictQATAR.

The regulator also predicts that the rollout of the new network operator would commence in early 2008, although the agreed timeframe would be finalised at a later date. Fagan also noted that the regulator had yet to finalise arrangements for the award of a fixed-line licence.

”We are contemplating holding a beauty contest for the fixed-line network licences where we will ask the bidders to set themselves targets in terms of the time frame of the rollout,” Fagan commented.

Despite mobile penetration in Qatar exceeding 100%, Fagan noted strong expressions of interest in the mobile venture. “The question of Qatar’s high mobile penetration is often raised but we have seen no lack of interest so far. There are a lot of ways a company could address a market with conditions like this,” Fagan suggests.

Additional media reports have also suggested that over 20 firms have expressed interest in tendering an offer and officials at ictQatar have also highlighted that ARPUs for incumbent operator Qtel have averaged US$274 per annum over the past five years.

“I would point out that the growing population in the country would add value to the licence and that we will use whatever regulatory tools within our reach [such as mobile number portability] in order to ease the entry of a new market player,” concluded Fagan.

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