Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Kuwait regulator to issue licence for virtual telecoms operator

Regulator issued request for proposals that will bring greater competition to the market

A general shot of Kuwait City. Andrew Henderson / The National
A general shot of Kuwait City. Andrew Henderson / The National

Kuwait’s regulator will issue a licence to a virtual telecom operator, opening the market to a fourth player serving the country with a population of 4.25 million people.

The Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority of Kuwait has issued a request for applications for the licence, state-run news agency Kuna said on Sunday.

The authority is looking to attract international virtual telecoms operators that have the technical know-how and expertise that can stimulate the telecoms market, Salem Al Ozainah said, according to Kuna.

Currently, the main telecoms providers in Kuwait are Ooredoo, Viva and Zain.

Applications for the licence must be submitted by November 14 and the selected application will be announced by February 6, 2020, Reuters reported, citing a document it has seen.

The applicant must partner with a company that can provide it with technology know-how and operational and management experience, Reuters said.

The partner will also own at least 40 per cent of shares and have a five-year management agreement.

Virtual network operators do not own the network, but rather they rent and combine services from other operators to target certain groups of consumers – usually paying traditional operators a fee plus a percentage of their own revenues.

Kuwait’s latest move will open the market to competition, offer more choice to consumers, create jobs and provide opportunities for investment in the telecoms sector, Mr Al Ozainah said.

Kuwait’s existing telecom providers, as well as individuals holding 25 per cent or more shares in Kuwaiti telecom companies, are not allowed to apply for the new licence, according to Reuters.

Foreign ownership would be subject to Kuwaiti law, which restricts non-Kuwaitis to minority ownership.

Updated: July 14, 2019 06:38 PM