Kuwait to issue virtual telecom operator licence

Kuwait will start to issue a virtual telecom operator licence, effectively creating a fourth player in a market serving roughly four million people and help to regulate the market.

Kuwait’s Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority has issued a request for applications for the licence, according to a document seen by Reuters, and the information was reported by state news agency KUNA.

Applications must be submitted by 14 November, 2019 and the selected applications will be announced by 6 February, 2020, the document shows.

Virtual network operators do not own the networks they use to provide communications services but instead lease capacity from conventional operators, usually paying them a percentage of their revenue as well as fees.

The applicant will have to partner with a company that can provide it with the technology, know-how and operational and management experience. The partner will also own at least 40 percent of shares and have a five-year management agreement.

Kuwait’s current telecom providers are Zain, Ooredoo, and Viva.

Kuwait’s existing telecom providers, as well as anyone holding 25 percent or more shares in Kuwaiti telecom companies, are not allowed to apply. Foreign ownership would be subject to Kuwaiti law, which restricts non-Kuwaitis to minority ownership.