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French Version

Detecon to choose its network by Wednesday (Daily Star)

Telecommunication Minister Jean-Louis Qordahi said on Monday that Detecon would select one of the two mobile networks to run on Wednesday, noting that the government would save $80 million a year from the tender, enough money to build 80 public schools.
The minister also said that the dispute between the government and France telecom would be resolved in July of this year.

Speaking at a press conference after the selection of the companies that will manage Lebanon's two cellular networks, Qordahi said that "Detecon's vice president, Dirk Munning, will arrive on Tuesday to give me the name of the network his company wishes to run."

"We will disclose the name of the other firm that will manage the second network on Wednesday," he added.

Detecon, part of the giant Deutsche Telecom, offered to manage Cellis' network for four years for $201 million ($4.18 million a month) and LibanCell for $192 million ($4 million a month). The Cabinet approved the results of the mobile tender during a special session on Saturday.

If Detecon selects Cellis, the Kuwaiti Mobile Telecom Company (MTC) will run LibanCell, but if the Germans opted for LibanCell, then the French company Orange will manage Cellis.

The government has temporarily shelved plans to privatize the telecom sector until the market improves. The minister did not comment on reports that Detecon was negotiating with Orange to run Cellis' network."It's Detecon's choice. The Telecommunications Ministry will not be involved in any talks between the companies," Qordahi said. He also refuted allegations that Detecon was only a consulting firm and had no experience in GSM systems."Our documents show that Detecon has operated GSM networks in more than 30 countries, including Germany, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and South Africa," he said.

Some local papers quoted sources as saying that Detecon had no previous experience in running GSM networks. Qordahi said that the tender process was attended by ambassadors to ensure the entire operation was conducted in a transparent manner.

Commenting on the prices for managing the mobile networks, Qordahi compared the prices offered by Detecon and those of Cellis and LibanCell.

According to the ministry, LibanCell charged the government $7.55 million a month from August 31, 2002 to January 2003, when their charges went down to $7.17 million from February 1, 2003 to September 2003 and finished at $6.56 million from October 1, 2003 to March 2004."These figures show that the ministry has saved $80 million a year, when Cellis and LibanCell charged $7.5 million a month a year ago and $40 million when the prices were revised a few months ago," the minister said.

Qordahi said he would try to persuade the Cabinet to reduce mobile charges after cutting the management contract fees.

Qordahi reiterated that Detecon did not have any Lebanese partner, adding that 51 percent of the firm was owned by T Systems and Deutsche telecom, 45 percent by the Saudi company FAL and the remaining four percent by the Saudi Detasad.

Beirut 19-04-2004
Osama Habib
The Daily Star

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