Moroccan regulator ANRT has announced that three operators have lodged bids for new fixed line licences, following a tender launched in late February to introduce competition to the market, which is dominated by incumbent Maroc Télécom. The three contenders for the concessions are domestic cellco Médi Télécom, local ISP Maroc Connect and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom. Originally, 33 companies had expressed interest in the concessions, which cover services including wireless in the local loop (one licence per region – ‘Northern’, ‘Southern’ and ‘Central’ including Rabat and Casablanca) and local mobility (one licence per region, permitting the provision of mobile services within a local area up to 35km in diameter). Also offered in the tender were two national backbone operating licences and two international gateway concessions. Maroc Télécom was forbidden to participate in any of the tenders and GSM operator Médi Télécom was not permitted to apply for the local mobility licences.
ANRT generated further interest in the tender by adding a clause to allow one new licence holder to receive a 3G mobile concession upon fulfilling the conditions of its fixed licence. The regulator stated that a national UMTS licence will be granted to the licence holder subject to compliance with three conditions: obtaining a local area mobile licence for all three regions offered, fulfilling its service commitments for the first 18 months of the licence, and expressing its interest in providing 3G services when submitting bids for the regional concessions.