Seven in running for Qatar mobile licence

Results of auction expected to be announced early November.

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By  Michele Howe Published  September 18, 2007

Seven of the original 12 pre-qualified candidates have submitted bids for the second mobile licence under offer in Qatar, the country's telecommunications regulatory authority announced today.

They are: ACE Consortium (which includes Airtel), Argos Consortium (which includes Verizon), AT&T, Batelco, Etisalat, MTC (Zain), and Vodafone.

"ictQatar welcomes the submission of bids by seven very strong candidates," said a spokesperson for ictQatar, the regulator in Qatar. "The level of interest shown by the telecommunications industry in this process speaks well for the future of the liberalization of the telecommunications market in Qatar."

The candidates will undergo a technical evaluation, the regulator said, after which financial proposals from the firms will be submitted to a single round auction process with the licence going to the qualified candidate with the highest bid.

The licence may fetch more than $300 million, according to reports in the regional press.

Candidates had until 16 September to place a bid. Other pre-qualified candidates were Orascom Telecom, Jordan Telecom, QUIC Consortium (operators Omantel and Belgacom), Reliance Telecom, and Digicel.

ictQatar said it expected to announce the winning bidder in early November.

The awarding of a second mobile licence will break the monopoly of state-owned incumbent operator Qatar Telecommunications on the provision of mobile services in Qatar.

Mobile penetration in Qatar, holder of the world's third-biggest reserves of natural gas, exceeds 100%. Its population should grow to 1.3 million by 2015, up from 840,000 at present, driving mobile phone use, the regulator said in April.

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