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Syria Postpones 3rd Phone License Due to Political Unrest

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The Syrian government has delayed next week's planned auction of the country's third mobile operator license due to the ongoing political turmoil in the country.

Citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter, Zawya Dow Jones said that the delay comes after Syria's President Bashar Assad sacked his government and promised reforms to stem the tide of protest that is engulfing the country.

"The license has been postponed because some elements on the supervisory committee were from the old government," the person told Zawya Dow Jones by telephone. "Some people are no longer on the committee."

No date has been set for the auction which has been troubled since its announcement with confusion over the regulatory regime and several expected bidders suddenly dropping out over the past few weeks.

Only Qatar Telecom and Saudi Telecom were left in the bidding round before it was cancelled.

According to figures from the Mobile World, the country is estimated to have had just over 11 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of March 2011, which represents a population penetration level of 54%.

The two incumbent operators will have to buy out their current BOT agreements and convert to a conventional license agreement. The buyout price has been previously reported as being around USD500 million.

On the web: Zawya Dow Jones - Mobile World

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Tags: qatar telecom  saudi telecom  auction  Syria