Bahrain telcos lag in Gulf LTE race

The lack of spectrum allocation is stated to be the reason for LTE roll out delay.
Bahrain's Batelco is in talks with the regulator for LTE spectrum allocation.
Bahrain's Batelco is in talks with the regulator for LTE spectrum allocation.

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Bahrain's telecom operators are at a disadvantage to their Gulf competitors because the country's regulator has not yet allocated the LTE spectrum, said Abdulhamid Chehab, Batelco’s general manager for mobile networks as reported by Reuters. "We are losing the competitive edge here,” he said.

"We are addressing the subject seriously to the regulator, but we are not getting a firm response when and which spectrum will be taken,” the report quoted Chehab saying.

Last month saw the two countries of Saudi Arabia and UAE launch LTE networks, and Qatari operator Qtel’s launch of an LTE program to deploy the network across the country.

Chehab said that Batelco's average data volume per user is doubling every six months, and many telecoms operators are betting on the new technology to meet soaring demand for data and to offset declining voice revenues. He also said that Batelco is yet to invest in LTE, but had undertaken some trials of the technology.

Recently, Batelco revealed that its IPTV service will soon be available for its broadband customers in two newly developed areas of Reef Island.

The incumbent operator competes in a tough market with two strong regional players, STC and Kuwait’s Zain, numerous ISPs, as well as the Middle East’s most zealous regulator, TRA Bahrain.

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