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ATCO Clearwire sues Bahrain government

Telco accuses TRA of violating Bahraini law and seeks disqualification

ATCO Clearwire Telecom (ACT) is suing Bahrain's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) over the regulator's failure to disqualify the two successful bidders for the kingdom's National Fixed Wireless Service (NFWS) licences, after the winning operators included zeros in their written bids for the licence.

According to Hatim Zu'bil, the lawyer representing ACT, one of the TRA's rules in the tender process stipulated that bidders should not include any zeros when writing the digits of their bids in the licence tender application forms, and it was this rule that Mena Telecom and MTC Vodafone-Bahrain, the two successful bidders, violated.

"By accepting two offers including the zero digit the TRA amended its rules without giving five days notice of the amendment, which was a requirement according to its own rules. If the number one and number two bidders are disqualified, which they should have been, then the number three bidder, ACT, should be number one," Zu'bil told CommsMEA.

"Invitation to tender rules are clear and precise and apply a strict standard for qualifying a bid as a valid financial bid; a bidder either meets all of the requirements, or does not at all. ACT has met with and written to the TRA requesting it to reconsider its decision. The TRA has refused. Therefore, ACT states that it has no other option but to pursue legal action," read an ACT statement last month.

MTC-Vodafone Bahrain and Mena Telecom were issued the NFWS licences on January 8, after the TRA accepted bids of BD5.5 million (US$14.5 million) and BD4.5 million respectively, beating four other qualified bidders including ACT, Bahrain Telecoms Company, Etisalcom Wireless and Reliance Communications.