Deadline for Qatar mobile licence extended

Regulator extends deadline for country's second mobile phone licence by two weeks.

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By  Reuters Published  August 30, 2007

Qatar's telecom regulator extended by two weeks the deadline for the 12 short-listed firms and consortiums to bid for the country's second mobile phone licence, the regulator said on Wednesday.

The deadline for bid submission is now September 16 rather than Sunday, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology said on its website. It did not give a reason.

Western firms such as AT&T, Vodafone and Verizon Communications will compete against regional rivals including Etisalat for a licence to end the last Arab telecoms monopoly.

A technical evaluation and auction could also be delayed by up to two weeks, the regulator said. Qatar previously expected to announce a winner in the last week of October.

Mobile penetration in Qatar, holder of the world's third-biggest natural gas reserves, exceeds 100%.

But its population is expected to grow by more than two-thirds to 1.3 million by 2015, from 840,000 now, driving mobile phone use, the regulator said in April.

Qatar's economy is set to grow at 8.5% this year, the fastest pace in the world's top oil-exporting region.

Etisalat's chairman Mohammed Al-Omran said in July the firm intended to "compete fiercely" for the Qatar licence.

Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), however, does not expect to win a bid for the licence because it is likely to cost more than $300 million, the Kuwaiti firm's chief executive was quoted as saying in Kuwait daily Al-Rai on Wednesday.

Qatar also plans to award a fixed-line licence before year-end.

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