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Saudi mobile licence gets nine bidders

The Saudi government has revealed the nine telcos bidding for the Kingdom’s third mobile licence.

The Middle East’s largest telecom group Orascom and Kuwait’s MTC are both competing to become Saudi Arabia’s third GSM operator.

The other contenders for the mobile licence include Oger Telecom, Samawat with Bharti; Turkish mobile operator Turkcell’s Kingdom Holding, Digi cel Tawasull, Al Shoula with MTNL, MTN Saudi Arabia, and Reliance Telecom.

The Kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced the applicants last week and said it would study and evaluate the applications based on the requirements and criteria specified. It said the licence would then go to the highest bidder among the eligible applicants.

IDC research and consulting director Mohsen Malaki said he expected MTC would be a strong contender for the licence, which reports have previously stated could fetch up to US$4 billion.

 “They were one of the highest bidders in Egypt for the third licence there so they are keen to get at least one of these two licences. They lost Egypt so now I think they will have a big focus on Saudi Arabia,” he told IT Weekly.

Saudi Arabia currently has two telcos offering mobile services, incumbent operator Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Etihad-Etisalat’s Mobily, which was awarded its licence in 2004.

STC is the only company currently offering fixed-line services in the kingdom, however, the licence for a second fixed-line operator is currently up for grabs and the deadline for applications has been set for March 10.

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