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Bahraini TRA moves to boost competition

Bahrain's telecoms regulator highlights barriers to competition in latest report

Bahrain's telecommunications sector still harbours barriers to full market competition, according to a study conducted by the kingdom's telco regulator.

Despite being recognised as one of the GCC's most open telco markets, the country's regulator announced that a recent public consultation conducted by the body found that "there are still some barriers, which are preventing the full availability of alternative [telco] services".

The public consultation, consisting of feedback from both industry and consumers, sought to assess present levels of competition in Bahrain's telco space as well as identify possible measures to ramp up levels of competition.

"We are pleased to receive those responses. The review took account of the survey of more than 1, 200 consumers and businesses in addition to in depth analysis of information received from telecommunications providers," said Alan Horne, general director of the TRA.

"We wish to address these barriers through regulatory actions. The TRA has to however carefully balance many issues when intervening and therefore is giving due regard to the comments received in the recent public consultation before coming to our final decision," he added.

The final details of the survey will be published in early 2008 along with proposed changes to retail regulation and market entry conditions. "TRA has decided to conduct a further round of public consultation prior to reaching a final position on the conclusions and recommendations," read a statement issued by the body.

Feedback from incumbent operator Batelco urged the body not to mimic the regulatory measures taken in larger markets, emphasising Bahrain's position as a "microstate".

"Independent studies have recognised that significant caution must be taken in countries with populations of less than 1 million because economies of scale and market entry issues," read a statement issued by Batelco.

It continued: "Regulators in such countries must not simply mimic the regulatory measures that are imposed in larger countries because many of them may not be appropriate for smaller countries as the cost may outweigh the benefit."

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