Saudi Telecom Company (STC) announced yesterday that it has awarded an
SR2.545 billion ($678.66 million) project to Ericsson and Nokia to
expand the Kingdom’s mobile phone system by adding 2.8 million lines
to the network within two years.
Swedish companies won the multibillion riyal contract in competition
with other international companies, including Lucent and Motorola of
the United States, an STC release stated.
STC will hold a press conference on Sunday to give details of the
Saudi telecom giant is also expected to announce new cuts in mobile
connection and telephone charges shortly before the opening up of the
market to international companies. “On the basis of the agreement,
the two companies will provide STC with the equipment and materials
required for mobile phone network expansion during the next two
years,” the STC said. The two international companies have been
given contact to construct a maximum 2.8 million mobile lines.
per the contract the cost of a single mobile line will be SR909 ($242)
instead of SR1,028 ($274) in the last expansion project. But Saleh Al-Jasir,
director general of marketing, told Arab News that the cost would
exceed SR909 as expenditures linking the lines with the ground network
would be added to it. The upper limit in the contract gives the STC
the choice to either allow the two firms to complete the expansion
project or stop at a number that could meet the requirements of
present, the company has 2.2 million mobile lines.
“Once the new expansion is completed, the number of mobile
lines will double,” Jasir said.
new project will help give coverage to all major roads and cities in
the Kingdom and improve the performance of the existing network, the
STC statement said. The company has improved its services to mobile
users — whose number crossed two million last May — and has
facilitated the quick payment of phone bills.
year, STC awarded Ericsson a SR1.13 billion ($302 million) contract to
add 1.1 million GSM connections. There are 2,505 towers and 19
exchanges on the Kingdom’s mobile network, which cover 17 main roads
with a total length of 6,000 kilometers.
growth rate of mobile phone use in the country is estimated to be
between eight and 10 percent per month.
was set up in 1998, with over SR12 billion ($3.2 billion) in assets,
in a move to privatize the sector. Its sales rose from SR9 billion
($2.4 billion) in the first year to SR17 billion ($4.53 billion) last
STC is working with Ericsson to carry out one of the largest programs
to train Saudis on planning, designing and implementing telecom
networks and installing towers and exchanges. 280 Saudis have already
graduated from Ericsson’s training center in Riyadh as telecom
engineers, assistant engineers and technicians.