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Orange Jordan sees slow 3G uptake

Slow takeup of 3G services blamed on a shortage of 3G-enabled handsets.

Jordan Telecom Group is currently looking at spreading 3G service coverage across the country.
Jordan Telecom Group is currently looking at spreading 3G service coverage across the country.

Orange Jordan, the telco that launched the country's first 3G network in March last year, gained 150,000 subscribers in 2010. Nayla Khawam, CEO of Jordan Telecom Group (JTG), said that the group is currently looking at spreading 3G service coverage across the country, and the telco plans to cover around 50% of Jordan's population with the service by February.

Raslan Diranieh, chief financial officer of JTG, was quoted by local newspaper The Jordan Times as saying that the main reason behind the "slow spread" of the service was due to the shortage of 3G-enabled handsets in the country. "Only 22-25% of mobile phones in the country are 3G service enabled; however, the more there are such devices the more subscribers there will be," he told the newspaper.

Diranieh said that about 80% of mobiles used by subscribers in Jordan do not enable 3G services, and the handset pricing ranges between JD30 ($42) and JD40 ($57). However, he said that the cheapest 3G service enabled mobile handset starts from JD60 ($85).

Khawam said: "It took us a while to raise knowledge about the 3G services and during the last two months of 2010 the number of subscribers increased significantly. It is a matter of time before we see the service spreading largely."

Orange Jordan paid $17 million for a 15-year 3G licence in August 2009 and the operator initially launched its 3G service in Amman in March 2010 before expanding into other parts of the country.

The company's 12-,month exclusivity period for 3G is expected to end in March, when Orange Jordan's rival, Zain Jordan, will launch its own mobile broadband network.

Orange Jordan competes with Zain Jordan and Batelco subsidiary Umniah in the competitive Jordanian telecom sector.