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Kuwait approves bill to create telecom regulator

Emir's approval would end decade of debate on watchdog issue

Kuwait is currently the only Gulf state without an independent watchdog to monitor sector.
Kuwait is currently the only Gulf state without an independent watchdog to monitor sector.

Kuwait's parliament approved legislation that will create an independent telecoms regulator in the Gulf state for the first time, Reuters reported.

The decision still requires ratification by the emir, widely considered to be a formality, but if approved it would end a decade of parliamentary debate on the creation of a regulator.

Kuwait is the only GCC member without a dedicated oversight body for the telecoms industry. Currently the Ministry of Communications fulfils a regulatory role as well as operating the country's fixed-line network, which is seen as a conflict of interest and a major reason for standards of Internet connectivity in the nation being lower than that of its neighbours. As of July 2012, Kuwait's average connection speed was a just over a third of the UAE's, according to Business Monitor International.

The government has yet to finalise a list of powers for the new body, but it may revisit plans to privatise the fixed-line network, which has been under consideration for more than 20 years. The fixed infrastructure consists mostly of ageing copper networks, where operators in fellow GCC countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have invested heavily in fibre-to-the-home.