Morocco 4G licence up for grabs in autumn 2012

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Young Moroccan girls using their mobile phones in the country’s capital, Rabat. Photo - Getty Images

Morocco telecoms regulator announced on Monday the launching of a tender to sell at least one 4G licence in the fourth quarter as part of its aim to reach the 10-year goal of providing access to broadband services across the country.

Telecommunications Regulatory National Agency (ANRT) said in an emailed response to a Reuters query it is yet to decide how many licences would be up for grabs in the tender.

“A study will be launched soon to fix the terms and conditions for 4G licensing … including the particular issue of the number of licences to be awarded,” ANRT said.

“The deployment of 4G technologies is a flagship of the National Plan for High and Very High-speed Internet that was recently adopted by ANRT’s board”, it said.

The Moroccan telecoms regulator emphasised that the programme is part of its aim to generalise broadband access for the entire population of the Kingdom within 10 years time.

On Friday, business weekly La Vie Economique quoted the head of ANRT as saying that the tender may allow the entry of a fourth operator to the market. However, ANRT refused to confirm or deny the report.

“The planned tender for 4G technology will be open to competition … Any interested candidate will be allowed to compete. Bids will be reviewed under specifications and tender documents that will be issued later,” ANRT said.

The agency said it has plans to award the licences at the start of 2013 and expects they will be operational by the year end.

Morocco’s telecommunications market is dominated by Vivendi’s Maroc Telecom, France Telecom affiliate Meditelecom, and Wana, owned by a holding company controlled by the Moroccan monarchy and Kuwait’s Zain .

The regulator’s data showed mobile penetration in the North African nation hovers around 110% of the 33 million population, but Internet subscribers reached only 3.2 million by the end of 2011, rising 70% from the previous year.

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