Bahrain lags region in 4G race


Bahrain's telecoms operators are at a disadvantage to their Gulf competitors because the country's regulator has not yet allocated the spectrum for next-generation high speed networks, a Batelco (Bahrain Telecommunications) executive said this week.

"We are losing the competitive edge here," Abdulhamid Chehab, Batelco general manager for mobile networks, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

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

Batelco's average data volume per user is doubling every six months, Chehab said, and many telecoms operators are betting on the new technology to meet soaring demand for data and to offset declining voice revenues.

In the past month, operators in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates have launched Long-term evolution (LTE) networks, also called 4G, which potentially deliver data speeds more than double that of earlier platforms.

Batelco competes domestically with units of Saudi Telecom Co. and Kuwait's Zain.

Chehab said Batelco had yet to invest in LTE, but had undertaken some trials of the technology.

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