Bahrain’s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) has issued a clarification for its upcoming frequency licence auction in the 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands, stating that participation in the tender process will be restricted to the existing three cellular network operators, Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco), Zain Bahrain and Viva (Bahrain). The definition of existing mobile operator/licensee disqualifies WiMAX operator Menatelecom, which has been given permission to launch fully mobile services and is currently rolling out a 4G LTE network reusing its wireless broadband frequencies; it was previously thought that Menatelecom could be allowed to enter the new spectrum bidding process.
The TRA’s statement says: ‘This change comports with the Decision of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Bahrain promulgated on 24 February 2013. The Decision clarifies the position of the government on the licensing of additional entrants in the telecommunications sector within the framework of the Third National Telecommunications Plan of the Kingdom, which was published on 3 July 2012 and promulgated as Resolution 39 of 2012 of the Council of Ministers. In acknowledgment of the need to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Third National Telecommunications Plan… as a result of this clarification, the Authority will limit eligibility for assignment of the frequencies being released in the referenced tender to the three existing holders of individual licences for the provision of mobile telecommunications services.’