XPress receives digital trunking licence

16 Oct 2006

The Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology (MTIT) for the Palestinian Territory has handed the region’s first digital trunking service licence to XPress Telecommunications of Jordan, according to local sources. XPress made the highest offer for the concession in a tender process launched in June, bidding USD3.1 million. XPress is the sole digital trunking operator in Jordan, where it operates services under the Direct Connect banner over infrastructure based on Motorola’s integrated digital enhanced network (iDEN) technology. Direct Connect works in a similar fashion to its GSM rivals, offering telephone connectivity, SMS, and data transmission using push-to-talk (PTT) enabled handsets supplied by Motorola. It is expected to employ iDEN technology in the Palestinian Territory, and will begin roll out of its network immediately.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, XPress is the second new Palestinian wireless operator to be licensed in quick succession. In April 2005 the Palestine National Authority asked Israel’s MoC for additional wireless frequencies, but it was not until early 2006 that the request was granted and tenders for cellular mobile and digital trunking licences were launched. In September 2006 Wataniya International was declared the highest bidder for the combined 2G and 3G cellular concession, and began negotiations with the MTIT for the formulation of a new operator. Wataniya reportedly won with a bid of JOD251 million. Both XPress and Wataniya will compete with incumbent cellco Palestine Cellular Telecommunications Company (Palcel), as well as four Israeli operators (Partner Communications, Cellcom, Pelephone and MIRS Communications) which have networks which contentiously encroach upon Palestinian Territories, despite not having express permission to do so from the MTIT. Whilst XPress is the first company to receive a digital trunking licence from the regulator, MIRS Communication’s iDEN network currently provides coverage of some of the Territory.

Palestinian Territory, XPress