Jordan’s 3G licence only attracts one bidder

Orange Jordan the only operator to bid for new mobile licence

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By  George Bevir Published  May 27, 2009

Orange Jordan has emerged as the only operator to bid for a 3G mobile licence in the country.

The licencing process was due to take place last year but it was postponed after three of the four mobile operators in Jordan, Zain, Orange Jordan and XPress asked for more time to complete their business plans, according to the country’s regulator.

Bids were finally invited in March this year, but it has now emerged that Orange Jordan was the only operator to submit a bid by yesterday’s deadline.

3G services will allow for greater use of faster mobile broadband services. The country is currently served by a mixture of fixed-line DSL connectivity, 2G mobile technology and fourth generation technology WiMAX.

A spokeswoman for Jordan’s telecommunications regulator said Orange Jordan’s bid would be examined by the regulator today to make sure it complies with the financial and technical regulations and an announcement confirming if the licence will be awarded to the operator will be made later today.

It is not know how much Orange Jordan has offered for the licence, but Philippe Vogeleer, Orange Jordan’s chief strategy officer, said the operator made a bid at a “reasonable price”.

“Of course there is a debate about what is reasonable,” he told CommsMEA last month. “The authorities want an auction with an entry ticket at JD50 million (US$70 million), which is very expensive.”

Vogeleer said that he did not think it made sense for an operator that was not already established in Jordan to bid for the licence.

“There is absolutely no business case of 3G in standalone, which means that an operator from the outside that would want to have 3G would need to take 2G spectrum as well. So the minimum frequency investment they would need is something in the area of JD150 million ($211 million),” he said.

Two of the remaining four operators in Jordan favour 4G technology WiMAX for the provision of fast broadband access.

In November 2007, Bahrain-based operator Batelco’s Umniah became the first operator to launch a 4G network in the country, while earlier this year Zain Jordan teamed up with Mada Communications to launch a WiMAX network.

WiMAX has an 8.3% share of residential broadband internet connectivity in the country, according to a survey of Jordan’s internet users conducted by Arab Advisors at the end of last year.

The smallest of the four mobile networks in Jordan, Xpress, operates a push-to-talk network using a niche technology known as iDEN.

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