TRA relaxes broadband restrictions on Batelco
Manama, March 30, 2014
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has decided to remove regulatory obligations on Batelco for mass-market fixed broadband services, said a report.
This, the regulator said, will result in the deregulation of approximately 90 per cent of broadband services in Bahrain, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The decision follows a consultation process with interested parties, with a draft determination issued in November last year.
Submissions were received from Batelco, VIVA, Zain and 2Connect on December 12 last year and cross-submissions were received from the same parties on January 9, the report said.
Having reviewed the submissions, TRA has concluded that no operator has significant market power (SMP) or dominance in the supply of mass-market broadband services, and that as a result, it is appropriate to remove current regulatory obligations from Batelco in relation to these services.
However, TRA concluded that in relation to higher-quality business broadband services, Batelco continues to have SMP at the retail level and dominance at the wholesale level.
The regulatory obligations on Batelco will therefore be retained in order to promote the competitive supply of business broadband services.
This decision ensures that regulation in Bahrain remains targeted only in those areas where there is insufficient competition, said TRA general director Mohamed Bubashait.
"In removing regulatory obligations in relation to mass-market broadband services, we are recognising that vigorous and sustainable competition has emerged in Bahrain which does not rely on regulated access.
"In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of WiMax and mobile broadband services in Bahrain, and strong uptake of broadband users by a number of operators.
"In such circumstances, regulation is not required, as consumers are able to benefit from lower prices, innovative services, and higher quality as a result of competition between the network operators," he added.
According to the TRA, for higher-quality business broadband services, however, there was less competitive pressure, as competing wireless operators had not been as successful in the segment.
Competitors relying on regulated access to Batelco's fixed network, for example using the regulated Bitstream service, remain an important source of competition for business broadband services, the regulator said.-TradeArabia News Service