TRA approves move to speed up Internet and reduce prices

Consumers are set to benefit from higher broadband speeds and lower prices under a new price regime set by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) for BNET – Bahrain’s national broadband network.

Announcing the approval of BNET’s reference offer yesterday, the TRA said it has mandated a doubling in the speed of fibre entry packages at the same wholesale price as the current lower speed package.

The reference offer also includes price reductions of up to 27pc, giving Internet service providers (ISPs) the ability to offer consumers new broadband services, the regulator said.

In addition, a limited set of services that are not used by many users could be withdrawn after TRA’s approval of a feasible implementation plan.

In simple terms, broadband consumers could save up to 27 per cent on their bills if operators pass on the full benefit of reduced wholesale prices they pay to BNET.

This means that someone paying BD10 a month for broadband currently could potentially save BD2.7 under the new BNET price regime set by the TRA.

Established as the sole provider of fibre services in the kingdom, BNET provides broadband services to all retail ISPs who then provide broadband services to consumers.

It can only offer services on terms and prices that are defined in its reference offer which needs to be approved by the TRA.

The approval of the reference offer comes nearly a year after the TRA launched a public consultation on the draft inviting stakeholders’ comments.

Extensive discussions and consultations with industry stakeholders and BNET have taken place since then, the TRA said.

Commenting on the approved reference offer, TRA general director Philip Marnick said: “We all need good quality broadband at affordable prices. Approving this reference offer will enable all of us to have better value fibre broadband services. But this is only delivered through vibrant and sustainable retail competition. To ensure this, we will also take measures to ensure consumers can always choose the broadband package that is best for them.”

The official went on to add that as the market evolves, TRA would need to ensure that the services BNET provides to support other operators’ networks, including mobile networks, are appropriate.

“The TRA will undertake a review to ensure that BNET offers the appropriate mix of fibre-based products at prices that allow Bahrain to not only have world-class fibre-based services, but also to maintain world-leading mobile services at competitive retail prices,” he explained.




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