Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jordan - taxing telecommunications users

Government siphons JD320 million from telecommunications sector

Government revenue from the telecommunications sector amounted to JD320 million last year, the head of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) told the Jordan Times on Thursday.

Speaking at the fifth Conference for Expatriate Jordanian Businessmen and Investors, TRC Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Hiyasat said the companies operating in the telecommunications sector earned a total of JD920 million in 2007, 9.8 per cent higher than the JD870 million generated in 2006.

He put the number of subscribers to mobile phone and radio telecommunications at 4.8 million at the end of last year and indicated that the penetration rate in this category has increased from 30.4 per cent at the beginning of 2005 to 83.3 per cent at the end of 2007.

The TRC chief said the higher penetration rate has improved the returns and profits of the mobile phone companies, raised their operational efficiency, provided subscribers with wider and better options, and beefed up the state revenue.

"The telecommunications sector played a significant role in Jordan's economic progress," Hiyasat added. "Information and communications technology accounted for around 11 per cent of the gross domestic product at fixed prices in 2007."

He indicated that since the start of 2005, when the market for fixed telecommunications was fully liberalised and the integrated licencing regime was introduced, a total of 76 class and individual licences have been issued until now.

The number of Internet users reached 1.2 million, he said noting that the penetration rate in this classification stood at 20 per cent. Hiyasat could not specifically state the number of internet subscribers but the rate of (subscriber) penetration at the end of 2006 was slightly above 4 per cent.

Subscription to fixed telecommunications continued to weaken as the total number came down to 559,000 marking a 10 per cent penetration rate.

Highlighting Jordan as the only Arab country that no longer has any equity in the telecommunications sector it regulates, Hiyasat pointed out that the volume of investments in this domain over the past seven years (2001-2007) totalled JD967 million.

"During the coming three years, there will be lots of developments that will make today's technology - though advanced - a modest one," he concluded.

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