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Qatar Telecom's Tunisian unit gets phone licenses

Associated Press Modified: May 7, 2012 at 5:45 am •  Published: May 7, 2012

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar's largest telecommunications provider said Monday its Tunisiana subsidiary has won licenses to operate fixed-line and 3G mobile services in Tunisia, boosting the Gulf state's influence in the North African nation.

Qatar Telecom will pay 205 million Tunisian dinars ($131 million) for the licenses, it said in a stock exchange filing.

The former Qatar state monopoly, which goes by the name QTel, said it will launch the 3G — or "third generation" — network in July. It plans to roll out the landline service early next year.

The licenses will allow QTel to offer a broader range of services to customers, Chief Executive Nasser Marafih said in the statement.

"It will also enable us to leverage our experience and knowledge base across the Qtel Group in the deployment of both the 3G and fixed-line networks, to help ensure that we maintain our market leading position in Tunisia," he said.

Tunisiana has a 56 percent share of Tunisia's mobile market, according to QTel.

QTel took control of Tunisiana in January 2011 after buying a stake previously owned by Egypt's Orascom Telecom, increasing its share in the Tunisian telecom to 75 percent.

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