Jordan Telecom sues regulator over 3G licence
Amman, January 14, 2011
Jordan Telecom Group (JTG), the country's sole fixed-line operator, is suing the state telecom regulator for 120 million dinars ($169 million) for breaking the terms of its 3G licence.
CEO Nayla Khawam said the regulator had allowed Kuwaiti telecom Zain's wholly-owned Jordanian subsidiary to roll out equipment for a 3G network months before JTG's exclusivity period expires in March.
"They made a commitment and they did not respect it neither in spirit nor deed," Khawam told Reuters.
The Jordan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (JTRC) granted Jordan Telecom, in which France Telecom owns a 51 percent stake, the country's first 3G licence in August 2010.
JTG said it paid $70.5 million for one year's exclusivity from the date of its commercial launch last March.
The government has denied it has granted Zain a 3G licence nor allowed it to install 3G equipment before the end of Jordan Telecom's exclusivity deal.
Zain has announced it will launch 3G services in Jordan in the first quarter of this year. Khawam said the government's attitude "did not reflect transparency" and cautioned that France Telecom, which has invested hundreds of millions of dinars in the firm since 2000, could reconsider its investment policy in the future.
Jordan Telecom said growth in broadband - especially away from the capital Amman - would boost revenue in 2011.
"Growth will be concentrated in broadband more than voice. This year will be the year of the broadband in terms of competition, and market dynamism," Khawam said, adding 3G subscribers had reached over 150,000.
JTG has over 700,000 landlines and its Orange mobile subsidiary has a market share over 32 percent with more than 2.1 million subscribers.
Zain is the largest mobile operator in Jordan with over 2.5 million subscribers and a market share of 42 percent.
Khawam said a pick-up in the fourth quarter could pave the way for a better overall performance in 2011 as the telecom sector and the economy shows signs of a modest recovery.
Net profit at the integrated telecoms group fell 11.3 percent in the first nine months of 2010 to 68.94 million dinars. Fourth quarter results are expected in early February. - Reuters