Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications (RCOM) have been shortlisted by the Qatar government along with 10 other global majors for the second mobile phone licence in the West Asian country.
Acceding to Qatarâ€™s Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR), other companies which made it to the second round include some of the worldâ€™s largest telecoms firms such as Mobile Telecommunications Co (MTC) of Kuwait, Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat), Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco), Orascom Telecom of Egypt, Telecom Group from Jordan, British telecom major Vodafone and US majors AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc.
The license will be awarded by October and the winner will have to compete with incumbent Qatar Telecom (Qtel). Qatar is also the last country in West Asia where the state-owned operator is a monopoly, but that is slated to change after the second mobile license is dished out.
Qtel will also lose its fixedline monopoly later this year as the government has invited global bids for a second fixedline operator.
Though Qatar which has a little over 800,000 residents has over 100% mobile subscription, analysts are of the view that there is scope for a new player. Qatarâ€™s telecom customers are considered very high monthly users.