Orange charged JOD156m to renew 2G licence

1 May 2014

Orange Jordan has criticised sector watchdog the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), claiming that the JOD156.4 million (USD220.11 million) fee to renew its 2G licence is ‘unreasonably high’, the Jordan Times writes. The TRC has instructed the cellco to pay the fee to renew its licence for 12.5MHz of 900MHz band spectrum by 9 May, or face having its 2G service deactivated. Explaining its decision, the TRC noted that it had contracted a consultation company to conduct a study before setting the renewal price and took into consideration the findings of the investigation, which assessed the current value of the spectrum in the local market. Orange rejected the claims, however, commenting in a statement: ‘Orange Mobile considers this amount to be unreasonably high by all international standards and benchmarks…which has also been confirmed by Orange’s own comprehensive study that was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.’ The cellco, which has been vocal in its criticisms of the government’s recent policies regarding the sector – including the decision last year to double the level of taxation on mobile services – added that the TRC’s decision would have ‘unbearable consequences’ on its ‘capacity to invest in and develop its mobile and fixed networks, as well as its capacity to acquire 4G/LTE frequencies in the future.’

Responding to Orange’s protests, state news agency Petra cites ICT Minister Azzam Sleit as saying that the fact that the government holds a 30% stake in Orange Jordan does not entitle the cellco to special treatment regarding 2G licence pricing. According to Sleit, the government is due to pay around JOD50 million of the licence fee.