Kuwait to privatise fixed line operations; MoC suspends issuing of ISP licences

18 Nov 2010

According to reports in the Al Seyassah daily, Kuwaiti communications minister Mohammad Al-Busairi has said that the country’s fixed line voice telephony services – currently provided by telecoms regulator Ministry of Communications (MoC) operating in an incongruous dual role – will be privatised within the next two years. Al-Busairi reiterated that the only way for Kuwait to achieve its vision of becoming an economic and financial hub is to privatise its state-owned companies. Contrary to popular opinion, Al-Busairi insisted that the government trusts the ability of the private sector to participate in the implementation of telecoms development projects.

In a separate move designed to limit the MoC’s influence on the Kuwaiti telecoms sector, Busairi was quoted as saying that the government has suspended the issuance of licences for new internet service providers (ISPs) until a separate telecoms regulator can be established in the country. The new body will be charged with granting licences and setting the relevant standards and conditions. He also said that the Ministry has ambitious plans to develop the country’s fibre-optic infrastructure, which will eventually include international submarine links. He added that the Kuwaiti government hopes to establish a new company to monitor international communication links, providing new job opportunities in the process.

Finally, with reference to the recent issue regarding the access of so-called ‘immoral’ websites by BlackBerry users, Al-Busairi confirmed that the Ministry has reached an agreement with RIM, the Canadian company that manufactures BlackBerry handsets, under which Kuwait’s three mobile operators – Zain Kuwait, Wataniya Telecom and Viva – will be responsible for filtering these sites.

Kuwait, Ministry of Communications (Kuwait)