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Virgin wins Saudi MVNO bid

Branson-backed firm to team up with STC

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.

Virgin Mobile has been successful in its bid for one of three mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licences in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom prepares to become the second GCC nation after Oman to license MVNOs, Reuters reported.

The kingdom's telecom regulator the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced on its website that Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA), part-owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will launch the network on Saudi Telecom's network.

Other successful bidders were London-based Jawraa Lebara, which will partner with Mobily, and Dubai-based Axiom Telecom, which will team up with Zain Saudi. KSA bidders FastNet and Safari were unsuccessful.

"The aim of these licences is to improve the level of telecommunications services and information technology ... and to contribute to lower their prices, improve customer care, increase job opportunities for citizens and to stimulate competition," CITC said in the statement.

The successful bidders are not yet licensed, but now have 90 days to submit the appropriate documents to carry their applications forward. Because of this, CITC did not say when the MVNO services might launch.