Three consortia confirm Saudi fixed line success

A consortium led by Bahraini telco Batelco has confirmed its place as one of the three successful applicants to operate a fixed-line network in Saudi Arabia.

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By  Administrator Published  May 1, 2007

A consortium led by Bahraini telco Batelco has confirmed its place as one of the three successful applicants to operate a fixed-line network in Saudi Arabia.

Consortia led by Hong Kong's PCCW and US Verizon Communications also received initial approval to offer fixed-line services in the kingdom, the GCC's largest telecoms market.

PCCW's Al-Mutakamilah operation has applied for further spectrum allocation, as has the Atheeb/Batelco outfit, while Verizon's Optical Communication consortium has not applied.

Abdul Rahman Al Fehaid, the deputy governor at the CITC, said the consortia should be able to start commercial services within a year of receiving their licences.

Batelco and partners bid US$226 million in order to be granted approval by the Saudi Arabian Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) to develop a fixed-line operation in the kingdom.

"Subject to satisfying a world defined approval process, outlined by CITC and also after receiving approval from the Council of Ministers, the Atheeb/Batelco consortium will be able to launch fixed telecoms services," said Peter Kaliaropoulos, CEO of Batelco.

The Bahraini operator will hold a 15% stake in the operation, with 25% of the consortium's shares to be sold off in an IPO prior to it commencing operations in accordance with CITC guidelines. The government will also hold a 10% share in the company.

The consortium, which also includes Saudi conglomerate Atheeb Group, will pay a fee of US$133 million if it receives approval to offer radio spectrum services. The group also revealed its plans to roll out broadband internet, voice and data services using WiMAX technology as part of its deployment.

"We plan to deploy various fixed and wireless technologies which will enable users to benefit from innovation," added Kaliaropoulos.

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