Axiom faces added Saudi MVNO hurdles

Kingdom’s telecom regulator to re-tender licence to operate on Zain KSA’s network

Tags: Axiom TelecomMobily (www.mobily.com.sa)Saudi ArabiaSaudi Telecom CompanyVirgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA) (www.virginmobilemea.com)Zain - Saudi Arabia
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Axiom faces added Saudi MVNO hurdles The bid deadline for Zain KSA’s now-open MVNO licence currently stands at June 2 (Getty Images)
By  Tom Paye Published  April 10, 2014

Dubai-based Axiom Telecom faces added hurdles before it is authorised to become a mobile virtual network operator in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported yesterday.

The Kingdom's telecom regulator will now re-tender the licence to operate on Zain KSA's network - a year after Axiom was given the initial go-ahead. Axiom will re-submit its application when the re-tender goes ahead.

In a statement, Axiom CEO Faisal al-Bannai said that the firm had seen issues in submitting a document that was required for the MVNO licence to be given the green light straight away.

"The axiom Mobile Consortium has been coordinating closely with the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) on the status of its MVNO tender," he said.

"There was an issue related to the completion of some of the documents with our initial submission, but we are pleased to announce that everything is now in order. We will re-submit our application within the next few days"

This puts Zain KSA at a disadvantage to rival operators STC and Mobily, both of which have secured MVNO partnerships with Virgin and Lebara Group, respectively. These MVNOs are expected to launch services in June.

Meanwhile, the bid deadline for Zain KSA's MVNO licence currently stands at June 2, after which the regulator will take 12 weeks to announce a winner.

Despite owning more than 600 shops in the Middle East, Axiom Telecom has never run an MVNO before - a key application criteria for the Saudi MVNO agreement.

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