Ma'an News Agency
April 7, 2010 - 12:00am

A third mobile provider will be licensed to operate in Palestinian areas by 2013, Palestinian Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Mashhur Abu Daka announced Wednesday.

The minister said the initiative was out of the "interest of the ministry to free Palestinian frequencies and mobile users from the control of the Israeli occupation," and came only days after the ministry announced a ban on the sale of Israeli phone cards and SIM chips in the West Bank under a government ban on settlement goods.

Within the next year, the Palestinian Authority will submit a tender for a third mobile phone operator, Abu Daka said, noting the license was expected within a year from the date of application.

The announcement came at a news conference in Ramallah, where the Telecommunications Ministry presented a policy schedule for development of the telecom sector in the next three years. Officials noted the centrality of the June Investment Conference in Bethlehem to development of the sector.

The investment conference "will give participant investors a chance to take a look at the document and other releases guiding investment in the in the field," Abu Daka said, adding that the series of papers from the government body were intended to provide clarity and transparency to investors and service providers from in and outside Palestine.

The new document will "give a clear window to investors to see and understand the plan of the government over the next three years, with set dates and goals in a concrete government vision and framework," the official said.

A reliable government program is essential for investors, Abu Daka said, "particularly in Palestine where there are many political factors that are out of control."

The second mobile provider, Wataniya, launched last fall after more than a year's delay when Israeli officials refused to release what mobile executives said were the necessary frequencies to operate the company.


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