Wataniya Palestine has been granted its operational radio spectrum which will allow it to launch the second GSM network in Palestine, specialized sources reported on Tuesday.Cellular News, a website that provides news about the telecommunications world, said that a spectrum agreement reached with the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MTIT) will be for a staged release of radio frequencies over the next several months.

In May though, Mohammad Mustafa, head of the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) which holds 43 percent of the shares of the company, said that the firm had already been granted some radio spectrum – although this may have been just for network testing.

The rest of the shares are owned Wataniya Telecom, a Kuwaiti based operator majority owned by the Qatari Telecommunication Company, (Qtel).

"WPT represents one of the most significant foreign investments in the history of Palestine. Despite delays in securing the required frequencies, Wataniya Telecom and Qtel have always been fully committed to this venture. We look forward to launching commercial operations in Palestine and we are very confident that WPT will be a success story that will attract other foreign investors to the Palestinian market," said H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, Chairman of Qtel and Wataniya Telecom.

The first Palestinian cellular operator is Jawwal and was the sole player in the Palestinian market, until Wataniya is granted the spectrum. Jawwal claims it has little more than 1 million customers out of 1.7 million mobile phones used in the Palestinian areas. Some Palestinians are using Israeli networks still.

The Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MTIT) awarded a GSM/3G license to Wataniya in 2006, after it agreed to pay US$355 million. Wataniya Mobile officials estimate the phone network would draw about US$650 million in foreign investment to the West Bank and create as many as 2,500 jobs in the first two years.