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Lebanon's TRA is set for launch

Lebanon's long-awaited telecoms regulatory authority should be operational within the next month.

Lebanon’s long-awaited telecoms regulatory authority (TRA) should be operational within the next month, the body’s president told IT Weekly this week.

Kamal Shehadi, president of the TRA, said in an exclusive interview that the organisation’s board had now been appointed and it would take over regulatory responsibility from the Lebanese Ministry of Telecommunications (MOT) shortly.

The TRA “will be in operation within the next three to four weeks, fully functional as a regulatory authority,” he said.

Opening up the Lebanese telecoms market to the private sector will be a key priority for the TRA, Shehadi said.

“The law says that we have to liberalise the sector. What we hope to do for 2007 is to issue the licences for the two mobile operators as well as the state-owned incumbent Lebanon telecom licence,” he said.

Government-owned Ogero is currently the sole provider of fixed-line telephony services in Lebanon, with two mobile service providers — MTC Touch and Alfa — operating under management contracts with the government.

Media reports have suggested that the Lebanese government is looking to raise between US$2 billion to US$3 billion for each licence.

The law for the establishment of an independent TRA was passed in 2002; its formation has been severely delayed for a number of factors, including political in-fighting over board nominations.

The launch of the TRA should be a welcome move for Lebanon’s telecoms sector, which is “in bad need of licensing and opportunities”, according to Maroun Chammas, executive director of internet service provider IDM.

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