TELECOMS: Cyprus divide nearer to implementing integrated mobile phone network

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Bar some technical issues Greek and Turkish Cypriots are very close to having their first interoperable mobile phone network to enhance contact as a key Confidence Building Measure (CBM), informed sources told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

The mobile telephony CBM is expected to be discussed during separate meetings the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, will have on Wednesday with President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci before her departure for New York.

There she will brief, on July 19, the UN Security Council after the release of the UNSG’s report on the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in view of the force’s mandate renewal at the end of July.

Anastasiades and Akinci agreed during their informal meeting on February 26 to implement a series of CBMs, among which was mobile phone interoperability through separate agreements of the operators on both sides with a hub based in Europe, in order to facilitate greater interaction between the two communities.

Sources said the two sides are much closer now to the implementation of the mobile telephony CBM after developments on the Turkish Cypriot side with regard to pricing, so that the cost will not be prohibitive.

The same sources said that the cost issue is dealt with by the operators and the hub – telecommunications company Comfone which is based in Switzerland – they are the ones responsible for the technical preparations required for the implementation of the measure.

CNA said the aim of the UN Mission to Cyprus, was to have this measure implemented in June, so it could be included in the UNSG’s report on UNFICYP. The report, due to come out on July 10, is now expected to take note of the progress made towards the implementation.