Wataniya Palestine plans Gaza launch

Palestine remains a tough market for its two mobile operators, which suffer from a lack of spectrum and illegal competition from Israeli telcos

Tags: PalestineWataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunications Company
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Wataniya Palestine plans Gaza launch Wataniya already has operations in the West Bank. (Getty Images)
By  Roger Field Published  June 12, 2011

Mobile operator Wataniya Palestine is planning to launch mobile services in Gaza in January 2012, depending on whether it can secure the necessary spectrum to start operations.

Bassam Hanoun, CEO, Wataniya Palestine, told CommsMEA that the telco has already ordered equipment from network vendor Ericsson, and plans to invest about $60 million in Gaza.

He added that the company expects to invest a total of $300 million in Palestine in the next three years.

However, Hannoun admitted that the planned launch date in Gaza would depend on the company being able to gain the required spectrum and also its ability to get the telecom equipment into Gaza.

"We are working on the project as if we are launching tomorrow, but this is a political decision rather than just a commercial decision," Hannoun said.

He added that when the company established its network in the West Bank it stayed in a "no-launch mode" despite the network being ready to start operations.

"It stayed in place a long time without frequencies and that could repeat itself in Gaza, so we have to keep the pressure on and to have the frequencies released and the equipment entering Gaza," he said.

Wataniya, which has been operating in the West Bank for about 18 months and competes with incumbent mobile operator Jawwal, has already gained a market share of about 24%, with about 410,000 active subscribers.

Wataniya Palestine is part of Kuwait-based Wataniya Telecom group, which is owned by Qatar's Qtel Group.

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