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Bahrain TRA removes broadband rules on Batelco

Improved competition in mass-market broadband means no need for regulations says TRA

Vigorous and sustainable competition has emerged in Bahrain, says Bubashait.
Vigorous and sustainable competition has emerged in Bahrain, says Bubashait.

The Bahrain Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has removed regulatory restrictions on Batelco related to fair competition in mass-market broadband services.

The regulator said that there is now "significant competition" in the mass-market broadband sector, meaning there is no longer a need for regulations. The ruling will mean the deregulation of approximately 90% of broadband services in the country.

The mass-market broadband sector mainly serves small businesses and home users. With services available from Batelco, Viva, Zain, and 2Connect the TRA said that no single operator has Significant Market Power (SMP) or dominance in the supply of mass-market broadband services in Bahrain.

Under the previous regulations, Batelco had ex ante regulation governing its residential retail fixed broadband tariffs, and was obliged to offer local loop unbundling (LLU), bitstream access and ‘Wholesale DSL (WDSL)' resale to competitors in the consumer segment over its network.

According to the TRA, Batelco will now have greater flexibility to respond to competition, and be able to offer lower prices more quickly, with more generous data caps and speeds, and innovative new services to residential and SME customers.

Mohamed Bubashait, general director of the TRA commented: "The review of competition in the broadband markets in Bahrain has been an important priority for TRA. The final determination released sets out TRA's final views on how competition has emerged in the relevant broadband markets in Bahrain, and represents an important decision as it ensures that regulation in Bahrain remains targeted only in those areas where there is insufficient competition.

"In removing regulatory obligations in relation to mass-market broadband services, we are recognizing that vigorous and sustainable competition has emerged in Bahrain which does not rely on regulated access. In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of WiMax and mobile broadband services in Bahrain, and strong uptake of broadband users by a number of operators. In such circumstances, regulation is not required, as consumers are able to benefit from lower prices, innovative services, and higher quality as a result of competition between the network operators in Bahrain."

Regulations will remain on higher-quality business broadband services, where the regulator says that Batelco continues to have SMP at the retail level and dominance at the wholesale level.

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