TRA publishes review, proposes mobile tariff deregulation

29 Aug 2007

Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has published its ‘Strategic and Retail Market Review’ for public consultation, which it says aims to enhance competition in the telecoms sector whilst protecting consumers. The regulator announced that the review was partly aimed at determining in which markets ‘competition has developed enough to allow the relaxation of certain regulatory controls’, and said it was looking to encourage further access and infrastructure competition before staging a gradual withdrawal from retail regulation as competition advances. The review’s conclusions state that competition in the fixed line retail market ‘is not yet effective’, and reveal that the regulator now believes the introduction of a ‘transitional retail price cap’ is the answer to protect consumers while ensuring a fair return for incumbent operator Batelco. Under the TRA’s proposals Batelco must notify the regulator of new fixed line services to ensure there is no element of anti-competitive behaviour, whilst the introduction of per-second billing will be encouraged and the issue of number portability will be addressed. In a major development, the regulator also said it is set to remove all regulatory requirements on the retail pricing of mobile telephony. While taking action to ‘ease entry’ to the mobile market, the TRA said it has no immediate plans to begin the formal process of issuing a licence for a third mobile phone operator. Other proposals in the report include measures to increase the transmission speeds and lower prices for internet services, and the establishment of a website to compare international call tariffs. Telecoms licensees as well as consumer and business advisory groups are invited to participate in the consultation which closes on 7 October. The results and the final findings on the state of retail markets in Bahrain will be announced by the TRA in December.