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Internet rates set to fall in Bahrain says TRA

Manama, January 27, 2011

Batelco, the leading telecom service provider in Bahrain, will have to slash key rates for its competitors after losing the latest round in an ongoing battle over charges, said a senior official of Bahrain’s telecom watchdog.

'This decision will support economic development and consumers will enjoy the benefits of competition and greater choice,' said Rob Middlehurst, deputy general director of Bahrain's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

He added said those charges should be reduced by between four and 31 per cent from next Tuesday.

The company was last summer ordered to cut web charges for a rival firm seeking access to its international Internet facilities.

Yesterday (January 26) it was told to lower its rates for other telecom operators using its bit stream and wholesale Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) services to offer their own Internet packages.

Middlehurst said he hoped the move would allow Other Licensed Operators (OLOs) to drive down prices and speed up Internet services.

'A sensible wholesale offer to OLOs is a key regulatory instrument supporting competition and choice in the telecommunications sector,' he said.

'The charges set in this order are evidence-based, fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory and allow Batelco to earn a fair and reasonable return on its investment. Following the implementation of these new charges, it is anticipated that there will be adjustment to the price retail offerings of Batelco and OLOs,” he added.

Middlehurst said interconnection links' charges are also decreasing by between nine per cent and 32 per cent, while the minimum contract for telecom firms seeking access to Batelco's services was being slashed from 10 years to three.

He described interconnection charges as stable with the exception of SMS and MMS termination charges, which were increasing due to a correction in costing. 'The increase should not impact retail prices,' he said.

Meanwhile, the TRA has also rejected a Batelco proposal to increase duct access charges by 45 per cent.

'This will support the on-going deployment of networks by OLOs using Batelco's existing duct infrastructure,' he said.

Low-speed, local leased line charges have been frozen after the TRA rejected increases of 30pc to 50 per cent suggested by Batelco, pending the resolution of a problem with Batelco's data.

Yesterday's announcement follows the submission of a Reference Offer by Batelco last April.

'New high-speed local leased lines services (above 2Mbps) are being introduced for the first time in Batelco's reference offer,' said Middlehurst.

Meanwhile, Middlehurst said international low-speed leased circuits charges were being decreased by 20 per cent to 60 per cent, while international high-speed circuits to GCC countries (above 2Mbps) were being introduced. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | Batelco | TRA | Internet rates |

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