Kuwait’s Wataniya Telecom has been awarded frequencies by Israel’s Communications Ministry, allowing it to offer mobile services in the Palestinian Territory, the Palestinian Telecommunications and Economy Minister confirmed yesterday. According to Reuters, Kamal Hassouneh said his Israeli counterpart had ‘no objection’ to granting Wataniya, which is now owned by Qatar Telecom, frequency spectrum to operate as the second Palestinian mobile network operator. ‘We have been demanding that Israel grant the frequencies needed for Wataniya for a long time. Israel gave its verbal consent,’ Hassouneh said, adding that Israel must grant frequencies under the Oslo peace accords.
Hassouneh went on to say that Wataniya was ready to start operating immediately on receipt of the requisite frequencies. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, in March 2007 Wataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunications Company, the company formed by Wataniya International and the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) to launch Palestine’s second wireless network, signed a licence agreement with the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MTIT) bringing the arrival of the new Palestine mobile operator one step closer. The terms of the licence agreement had been in negotiation since Wataniya International successfully bid JOD251 million (USD356 million) for the concession in September 2006. Wataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunications Company is 40% owned by Wataniya International and 30% owned by the PIF, while the remaining shares will be offered to the Palestinian public through an IPO. Wataniya plans to build and operate a GSM network in the Palestinian Territory and also hopes to roll out a 3G network in the future.