Mobily ousted from Saudi fixed-network race

Saudi Arabia’s Communication and Information and Technology Commission (CITC) has announced the short-list of bidders for the kingdom’s second fixed line licence, and second mobile operator Mobily is a glaring omission from the list.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  April 18, 2007

Saudi Arabia’s Communication and Information and Technology Commission (CITC) has announced the short-list of bidders for the kingdom’s second fixed line licence, and second mobile operator Mobily is a glaring omission from the list. After receiving 10 bids the CITC announced that US-based Optical Communication Company Consortium (MCI International/Verizon), the Hong Kong consortium Al-Mutakamilah (PCCW) and the Bahrain’s Atheeb Consortium (Batelco) are the remaining bidders. All three consortia will submit sealed bids to the CITC which will formally announce its evaluation at a public opening ceremony, held at the CITC headquarters on April 21 in Riyadh. Mobily had previously touted its bid for the second fixed-line licence as a key building block to its convergence strategy. In an earlier interview with CommsMEA, Mobily CEO Khaled Al Kaf commented: “The fixed line licence will be used for the high end of the consumer and SME market, which requires a high bandwidth fibre network delivering speeds of up to 14Mbps.That is where we will be developing high bandwidth technology, over an IP-based technology, over an MPLS fibre network within the metropolitan cities of Saudi for the business sector.” Al Kaf stated that the operator was looking to differentiate itself from the third entrant and had planed to achieve this by providing a fixed-mobile convergence solution. Mobily lays claim to 800,000 active subscribers to its 3G and 3.5G services making it the largest 3G mobile operator in the Middle East. According to one study, total expenditure within Saudi Arabia’s telecoms sector could reach SR225 billion (US$60 billion) by the year 2020. At present there are 18 million mobile and 4 million fixed lines in the kingdom.

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