Lebanon’s long-awaited independent regulator, the Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA), will be fully operational by next month, reports ArabianBusiness.com quoting Kamal Shehadi, president of the fledgling authority. Shehadi said that the watchdog’s board had now been appointed and it would take over regulatory responsibility from the Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) shortly. Opening up the Lebanese telecoms market to the private sector will be a key priority for the TRA, Shehadi said, adding that ‘the law says that we have to liberalise the sector. What we hope to do for 2007 is to issue the licences for the two mobile operators as well as the state-owned incumbent telecom licence.’ Government-owned Ogero Telecom is currently the sole provider of fixed line telephony services in Lebanon, with two mobile service providers – MTC Touch and Alfa – operating under management contracts with the government. Media reports have suggested that the government is looking to raise between USD2 billion and USD3 billion for each licence. The law for the establishment of the TRA was passed in 2002; its formation has been severely delayed by a number of factors, including political infighting over board nominations. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that the legislation called for the separation of state regulatory and operational departments, and for Ogero to be merged with two ministerial departments to create a new fixed line operator, Liban Telecom, which would subsequently be privatised. According to the database, the TRA’s main responsibilities will be to oversee the market and its liberalisation, license network operators and service providers, manage wireless spectrum, resolve technical issues and protect consumers, whilst the role of the MoT will change to cover general policy and representing the Lebanese telecoms industry abroad, rather than control of Ogero.