The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (“TRA”) has been undertaking a comprehensive strategic market review (‘SMR’) of the telecommunications sector in Bahrain throughout the second half of 2014. The purpose of the SMR is to review how competition has developed across the telecommunications sector in Bahrain with a view to ensuring that the regulatory framework is adapted to reflect such developments.
TRA’s General Director Mohamed Bubashait commented: “The SMR draft report sets out TRA’s proposed directions on what should be done to promote an even more efficient and dynamic telecoms market. Through the outcomes of the SMR, Bahrain will be taking significant steps towards ensuring that market regulation is in sync with the recent market and technological developments. TRA continues to be a highly progressive market regulator, taking pioneering steps to fostering efficient market outcomes. We are now keen to consult the industry and other stakeholders to hear their views on TRA’s proposed way forward”.
The SMR draft report should be seen in light of TRA’s overall objective to foster an efficient telecommunications sector for the benefit of all users in the Kingdom.
The SMR confirms that significant competition has developed in Bahrain in the last years, notably for broadband and mobile services. Consumers in Bahrain have today, in general, a wide range of choices for telecommunications services. The development of effective competition in particular markets has led to substantial price reductions and new service innovations for consumers and businesses in Bahrain.
Mr. Mohammed A-Binali, TRA’s Market and Competition Director also stated :”A key part of the SMR is the competitive assessment of all so-called ex-ante regulated markets. Ex-ante regulation refers to remedies and obligations which are imposed upon operators with dominant positions in the markets. As effective competition develops, it is critical for any regulator to ensure that the market interventions in place remain relevant and proportionate to the market situation. Ex-ante regulation should, as a principle, only be introduced or retained if it is needed to correct failures caused by insufficient competition in the market”.
In the SMR draft report, TRA has identified a number of markets which are likely to be susceptible to ex-ante regulation going forward. Importantly, as competition develops, TRA also proposes to remove some currently regulated retail markets from ex-ante regulatory scrutiny.
The public consultation period will run until the end of January 2015. Following the end of the period, TRA will take into account stakeholders’ views and expects to release the final report on the SMR in Q2, 2015.