labels: telecom, reliance communications, bharti tele-ventures ltd / bharti airtel
Reliance, Bharti among 12 companies entering second round of bidding for Qatar mobile licencenews
04 July 2007

Mumbai: Reliance Telecom and Bharti Airtel along with ten other firms, including Egypt''s Orascom, Britain''s Vodafone, Verizon of the US, MTC of Kuwait and Bahrain Telecom have entered the second round of qualifying process for a GSM-based mobile licence in Qatar that the Gulf country plans to award by October this year.

Qatar ''s Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR), the country''s telecom regulator, plans to award the second GSM mobile licence in October.

"We were delighted by both the number and quality of the applications we received. The list includes important regional and international operators," ictQATAR''s secretary general Hessa Al Jaber said in a statement.

Through a final mobile application process (MAP), all 12 companies will be assessed on criteria such as depth of expertise, industry knowledge and financial security.

The two Indian companies had earlier lost in a bid for a cellular licence in Saudi Arabia, while Reliance Telecom had also opted out of a bid in Kenya.

State-run Qatar Telecom is the first mobile operator. The company is also set to lose its fixed line monopoly later this year as the government has invited global bids for a second fixed line operator.

The consultation period for comments and views on the draft licence document had been until July 1. The licence will end Qatar Telecom''s (Qtel) monopoly in a market which has mobile penetration in excess of 100 per cent.

Law No.34 of 2006 ended Qtel''s monopoly and introduced competition in the telecommunications sector. ictQATAR is the regulatory body of information and communication technology (ICT) and has been vested with powers to oversee the liberalisation process, granting competitive licenses for the provision of network and telecom services.

Qtel will have exclusive rights on the networks laid by it while the new market entrant will have to construct its own network to provide the relevant services. Liberalisation in the sector is taking place in a phased manner and will cover all areas, including the Internet.

Although at first thought to be a limited market due to the small population, global players appear to have discovered that there is indeed, potential. The population is growing and the many projects underway here have meant an influx of expatriates which equates to more mobile phone connections.

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Reliance, Bharti among 12 companies entering second round of bidding for Qatar mobile licence