Palestinians plan 3rd mobile licence in 2013
Project depends on whether Israel will open frequencies for Palestinian use
The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday it plans to issue a third mobile phone licence in 2013, although the success of such a project will depend on Israel opening frequencies for Palestinian use.
Telecommunications Minister Mashour Abu Daqqa said the Palestinian market, comprising 4 million people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, could accommodate a third network. He said bidding will open in 2012.
The project's success depends on Israel opening telecommunication frequencies for Palestinian use, assuming the coming years fail to yield a peace deal granting Palestinians sovereignty over territories occupied by Israel since 1967.
Abu Daqqa said a third network would enhance quality and lower prices.
The Palestinian market is currently served by Wataniya Palestine, which is part owned by Qatar Telecommunications Co, and Jawwal, which is owned by The Palestine Telecommunications Co (Paltel).
"All the studies say there is room for a third operator," Abu Daqqa told a news conference in Ramallah.
Wataniya Palestine began operating in November and says its subscriber growth has exceeded targets. Jawwal, which began operating in 1999, has some 1.8 million users.
Abu Daqqa said the Palestinians were asking Israel for access to the frequencies required for a third operator.
Abu Daqqa said a third operator would help to squeeze out Israeli firms. Some Palestinians in the West Bank are forced to use Israeli networks because of the problems the Palestinian firms face erecting masts in the 60 percent of the West Bank that falls under full Israeli control.
"We must impose facts on the ground," Abu Daqqa said.
The Palestinians aim to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. (Reuters)