Mobily promotes 3G

Mobily, Saudi Arabia's second operator in terms of subscriber numbers, has a significant presence at this year’s GITEX Saudi Arabia given the looming threat of increased competition in both the cellular and fixed-line arenas.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  April 15, 2007

Mobily, Saudi Arabia's second operator in terms of subscriber numbers, has a significant presence at this year’s GITEX Saudi Arabia given the looming threat of increased competition in both the cellular and fixed-line arenas. Since the commercialisation of Mobily’s operation in May 2005, CEO Khaled Al Kaf said Mobily has worked tirelessly to shake off any impression of the company being the country’s second operator in any respect - an endeavour that has already started to pay dividends for the operator. “At GITEX Saudi Arabia this year we are highlighting our Blackberry offering as well as our 3G technology and services,” said Humoud Al-Ghobaini, Mobily’s public relations manager. “The point of participating in the exhibition is to show the many positive things that we have achieved so far,” continued Al-Ghobaini. Mobily, which is backed by the UAE’s Etisalat, recently announced that CNN International could now be watched live on 3G mobile phones in Saudi Arabia, through a landmark content agreement. The deal marked the first time CNN had been made available live on mobile phones in the Middle East through a 3G network. The operator last month also announced that it had signed an Islamic financing agreement worth US$2.875 billion in the largest-ever syndicated Islamic loan to fund its rapid expansion throughout Saudi Arabia. Banks involved in the loan facility include Samba, Saudi French Bank with Calyon, Saudi Hollandi Bank with ABN Amro, National Commercial Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The loan will be used to pay short-term debt, and to finance operations and infrastructure expansion. Mobily has been able to garner more than 6 million mobile subscribers in less than two years of operation, having achieved revenues of SAR6.1 billion (US$1.67 billion) to the end of 2006, with a profit of US$187m after only 18 months of operations. Today, Mobily’s network extends to all cities and major towns in Saudi Arabia, and covers more than 22,000 kilometres of highways. The operator launched 3.5G services in June 2006, covering 19 cities in the Kingdom, and by the end of calendar 2006, the operator counted more than 500,000 active 3G and 3.5G subscribers. Mobily has also been active in launching innovative services such as MMS, location-based services, international roaming service for prepaid SIM cards, as well as GPRS and GPRS EDGE roaming.

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