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New Saudi mobile networks given go-ahead - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Saudi woman looks at her mobile as she walks through a coffee shop in the capital Riyadh on June 17, 2013 AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE

A Saudi woman looks at her mobile as she walks through a coffee shop in the capital Riyadh on June 17, 2013 AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi telecoms regulators have approved licenses for three new mobile networks, allowing international firms to partner with local service providers.

Sources within the kingdom’s telecoms regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that 15 per cent of the net revenues from the sale of new licenses will go the state treasury.

The same sources said the decision to license new mobile networks was also aimed at creating new jobs in the telecoms sector for Saudi job seekers, but did not reveal estimates on the number of new jobs that may be created after new licenses are granted.

In addition, the CITC hopes that by issuing new licenses for mobile phone networks it can increase competition in the kingdom’s telecoms industry.

Three firms, together with local partners, have already been given provisional approval, out of an original five applicants for new licenses.

The Communications and Information Technology announced the decision in a recent press conference, saying: “the commission would like to inform the public and stakeholders that it has evaluated the applications and three were chosen: Axiom Telecom, with the service provider host Saudi Mobile Telecommunications Co. (Zain), Virgin Mobile, with the service provider host STC, and Jawraa Lebara, with the service provider host Etihad Etisalat (Mobily). The next phase is obtaining the license.”

According to a report by the commission, the conditions for obtaining a new license include launching the service commercially to the public within 12 of the operating license being issued.

The report also points out that the commission may cancel the license at its discretion if this obligation is breached and the license bearer alone will claim full responsibility resulting from this break without the commission holding any liability or responsibility.

This condition was announced 90 days before the deadline for applications for new licenses, which are expected to lead to major changes in the Saudi telecommunications sector.

According to the report licenses will last for 10 years, and the licensee must provide billing and customer service from the launch date. It also states that the licensee has the right to resell mobile services that were either rented or purchased in bulk from service providers with local, national, or international infrastructure.

Sultan Al-Malik, spokesman for the Communications and Information Technology commission, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the three candidates for new licenses have 90 days to complete the requirements in order to obtain the permit and that no application will succeed if the necessary requirements are not met during this period.

Malik also confirmed that application conditions include establishing a registered Saudi company, in accordance with the official rules and regulations, noting that company may not modify the contract with the Ministry of Trade and Industry without consent from the regulator.

Malik also noted that candidates must require bank guarantees for good conduct in the form of an unconditional and irrevocable bank pledge issues by banks based in the kingdom and supported by Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).

In addition to this, payment of all other financial commitments specified in the license annex document must be completed along with providing a copy of the management agreement, signed and certified by a notary public, along with a copy of the convention on mobile network operator’s final document.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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