Bahrain May Award Licenses for 4G Network in First Quarter 2013

The Bahrain government may award as many as two licenses for high-speed next-generation telecommunications networks in the first quarter of 2013, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said.

The government will ask new firms to bid if the current three licensed companies in the kingdom prove insufficient to provide fourth generation services, the Chairman of the authority Mohammed al-Amer told a news conference late yesterday in the capital city of Manama.

“We just hired a consultant to help us in the auctioning process of the two licenses and we are still not decided if we are going to award the two licenses or just one or if we are going to give it to current operators or ask new ones to enter the market,” al-Amer said. “Everything will be clear by early next year.”

Al-Amer said that Bahraini government entities are using the band frequencies for a high-speed Long Term Evolution network, known as LTE, or 4G network. The authority was able to free frequencies for the two upcoming licenses and wants to free more for a higher speed network called LTE Advanced, he said. The authority plans to award the license for this network within two years, he said.

Bahrain’s telecommunication industry made about 402 million dinars ($1.07 billion) in revenue last year compared with 360 million dinars a year earlier, with 40 percent coming from mobile services, al-Amer said. The mobile service penetration in Bahrain is 143 percent, meaning each person owns 1.5 mobile phone lines, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Wael Mahdi in Manama at wmahdi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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