On Jun 19, Lebanese Telecom Ministry launched an international public tender for managing the country’s two mobile networks for a three-year term. The Cabinet extended until the end of 2015 the existing management contracts currently operated by Kuwait’s Zain Group and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom (the Alfa brand) under short-term renewable contracts.
The Telecom Ministry Friday launched an international public tender for the management of the existing two mobile networks in Lebanon for a three-year term. The ministry said in a statement that interested parties must submit their bids no later than June 30, 2015, and the results will be announced on Sept. 8, 2015. It added that interested Mobile Network Operators must prove that they have been providing telecom service for the past five years and on a continuous basis for one or more mobile networks owned or managed by MNO to at least 10 million active subscribers. They also must have at least 3 million subscribers for each network. “The MNO must have at least 10 years of operational, technical and development experience in owning and/or managing mobile networks and providing mobile services,” it added. The statement said that each mobile operator interested in bidding must run a network worth $5 billion in value. The Cabinet extended until the end of 2015 the existing management contracts for the country’s two state-owned mobile networks, currently operated under short-term renewable contracts by Kuwait’s Zain Group (under the touch brand) and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (under the Alfa brand). Both operators have over 4 million subscribers. The current operators touch and Alfa did not say whether they will participate in the new tender. But Telecom Minister Boutros Harb said the new mobile operator tender is part of a plan to revamp the telecom sector. “We will be giving a chance for new companies to enter the tender and we will grant the new companies a contract for three years until privatization takes place. We need new companies to come and provide better services to citizens,” he said on a previous occasion. Harb had told The Daily Star a few months earlier that the best solution would consist of completing the next bidding process and having two new mobile operators manage the sector for two years until Law 431 is properly implemented. Law 431 of 2002 stipulates the establishment of Liban Telecom, through merging the operations of Ogero (a government-owned contractor) and two directorates of the Telecom Ministry. According to Law 431, Liban Telecom would be an integrated telecom operator providing services that include fixed and mobile telephony, local and international communication, voice and data access, pay phones, emergency call services, and dial-up and printed directory information services. Harb explained that with the establishment of Liban Telecom, the government would bring a strategic partner with advanced technical capabilities, such as Vodafone or Orange S.A., with an ownership right of 40 percent, which would motivate the other companies to compete with the national company in providing better quality and prices.