After hearing about this on and off over the past years, the Tunisian Telecoms Ministry finally launched an RFP yesterday for a license to provide fixed-line and mobile telephone services.
“In order to open up the telecoms sector, Tunisia’s telecoms ministry has decided to award, via an international auction, a license to install and exploit a public telecoms network and provide fixed-line phone and 2G and 3G mobile phone services,” the ministry said in a statement.
Interested bidders willing to pre-qualify for the tender were invited to show their interest alone or as part of a consortium, and submit their offers no later than May 5, 2009; with the government expected to reward the license in the second quarter of next year, according to the ministry.
State-controlled Tunisie Telcom (with a 35% stake held by Dubai’s Tecom) still holds a monopoly in fixed-line services and controls around 70% of the mobile market in Tunisia.
The only existing competition is in the mobile services area, in the form of Tunisiana, a joint venture of Kuwait’s Wataniya and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, which was awarded a mobile license in 2002.
This move has long been awaited by Tunisians who’re fed up of Tunisie Telecom’s monopoly on fixed-line telephony and who hope competition will enhance the quality of provided services and drive down prices, just like the entry of Tunisiana into the mobile area did over the past years.
Having a third competitor in the mobile services area should also break the current balance the two current operators are reaching, and get the market moving again towards offering more for the client at better prices.