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Saudi Telecom claims 15.5mn mobile lines

Telecom says it has 15.5 million mobile phone subscribers in the largest Arab economy.

Saudi Telecommunications Co., the largest Arab telecom firm by market value, said on Monday it had 15.5 million mobile phone subscribers in the largest Arab economy, home to about 24 million people.

Saudi Telecom, which lost its monopoly over mobile phone services with the launch of Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) in 2005, gave no comparative figures for subscriber numbers in a faxed statement.

The company had 13 million users in January, newspapers, including al-Riyadh, reported that month.

Mobily had 6.2 million subscribers at the end of March, up 121 % from a year earlier. The company also declined to give new subscriber numbers when it posted a 162 % surge in second-quarter profit last week.

A group of investors led by Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co. prepares to start the country's third operator, after making a winning bid of $6.11 billion for a licence earlier this year.

Telecom companies in Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, may be generating 38 % more revenue in 2010, or 55 billion riyals, compared with last year, the kingdom's telecom minister said in May.

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