Bahrain Court rules in favour of Batelco

Bahrain’s Senior Civil Court has this week ‘suspended’ a component of an emergency order issued by the Kingdom’s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) in June. This order had forced Batelco to publicly admit that it had “misled the public” over the launch of a cut-price internet service.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  August 7, 2006

Bahrain’s Senior Civil Court has this week ‘suspended’ a component of an emergency order issued by the Kingdom’s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) in June. This order had forced Batelco to publicly admit that it had “misled the public” over the launch of a cut-price internet service. Specifically, the emergency order ‘1/06’ issued by the TRA in mid-June forced Batelco to admit it had “misled” customers by publicly launching a BD10 per month ‘light user’ broadband package, which the TRA had not approved (and was thus not legal). Batelco was also forced to stop therefore offering this cut-price internet service. The order (detailed in our previous story here), included the following statement, which the Kingdom’s Senior Civil Court has now suspended: ”Batelco has been ordered by the Telecommunications Authority to cease to offer a BD 10 per month, 256 kbit/s DSL package. This is because Batelco failed to meet its obligations under the Telecommunications Law and its License. Batelco apologises to its consumers in that it has misled them through the advertisements issued that it could offer such packages when it was aware that it could not do so legally. This announcement is issued pursuant to the order of the Authority.” In the press release containing this statement, which Batelco published at the time, the telco claimed it had already begun initiating legal action against the TRA, which has in turn led to this week’s ruling by Bahrain’s Senior Civil Court. Following the court’s suspension of this emergency order component, Batelco chief executive, Peter Kaliaropoulos, said this week: “Whilst the Regulator has the right under the Telecommunications Law to scrutinise Batelco’s costs and retail prices, it has unfairly imposed, effectively a punishment, by incorrectly forcing Batelco to publish that is has misled customers.” “However,” Kaliaropoulos added, “the most important issue is to continue to work co-operatively with the TRA to deliver a BD10 service to consumers in Bahrain and make the Kingdom the most competitive market in the Middle East for internet services.” Batelco began approval procedures with the TRA for a BD10 Internet Package in January 2006 and following five months of ongoing submissions to satisfy conditions regarding a competitive offer to new ISPs, it claims it believed that it had met all the criteria necessary and thus communicated the package to the public in June, following which the TRA issued the emergency order. The statement Batelco offered this week continued by adding that the organisation was “concerned as to why the TRA did not approve this lower priced internet package”, which it claimed will benefit Bahraini consumers.

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