ATCO sues Bahrain’s TRA

ACTO Clearwire Telecom claims that Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has violated Bahraini law by issuing the National Fixed Wireless Service licence to Mena Telecom and MTC-Vodafone Bahrain, as both operator’s bids were invalid according to the TRA’s own legally binding auction rules

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By  Christopher Reynolds Published  January 10, 2007

ATCO Clearwire Telecom is suing Bahrain’s telecoms regulator over its failure to disqualify the two successful bidders for the kingdom’s fixed wireless service, after the winning operators included zeros in their written bids. According to Hatim Zu’bil, the lawyer representing ACTO, one of the TRA’s rules in the tender process stipulated that bidders should not include any zeros when writing the digits of their bids in the licence tender application forms, and it was this rule that Mena Telecom and MTC Vodafone-Bahrain, the two successful bidders, violated. “By accepting two offers including the zero digit the TRA amended their rules without giving five days notice of the amendment, which was a requirement according to their own rules. If the number one and number two bidders are disqualified, which they should have been, then the number three bidder, ATCO, should be number one,” Zu’bil told CommsMEA. ACT Clearwire Telecom (ACT) claims that Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has violated Bahraini law by issuing the National Fixed Wireless Service (NFWS) licence to Mena Telecom and MTC-Vodafone Bahrain, as both operator’s bids were invalid according to the TRA’s own legally binding auction rules pursuant to the TRA’s invitation to Tender. ACT demands the successful operators be disqualified from the licence auction, and ACT, with the third highest bid, be recognised as a winning bidder. “ITT rules are clear and precise and apply a strict standard for qualifying a bid as a valid financial bid; a bidder either meets all of the requirements, or does not at all. ACT has met with and written to the TRA requesting it to reconsider its decision. The TRA has refused. Therefore, ACT states that it has no other option but to pursue legal action,” read an ACT statement. MTC-Vodafone Bahrain and Mena Telecom were issued the NFWS licences on January 8 2007, after the TRA accepted bids of BD5.5 million (US$14.5 million) and BD4.5 million respectively, beating four other qualified bidders including ACT, Bahrain Telecommunications Company, Etisalcom Wireless and Reliance Communications Limited.

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