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Ericsson and Lucent Technologies have jointly won an $600 million (SR2.25billion) contract
 Riyadh, 3rd Jul 2001

  Ericsson and Lucent Technologies have jointly won an $600 million (SR2.25 billion) contract to add more than 1.1 million mobile telephone lines to the Kingdom’s existing network.

The Swedish firm, Ericsson, got the lion’s share of 60 percent of the contract ($360 million) while the US company received the remaining 40 percent worth $240 million. At present there are more than two million mobile phones in the Kingdom.

High-level sources at Saudi Telecom Company (STC) told Arab News that the new expansion program would include establishment of 600,000 mobile lines this year. The remaining lines will be completed by the end of next year.

Finnish company, Nokia, and Motorola of the United States were among the international companies vying for the multimillion-dollar contract. Last week, STC awarded another contract to establish 450,000 new fixed telephone lines.

Khaled Al-Melhem, executive president of the company, said the project would be implemented in 18 months. He did not say who won the contract and did not disclose the contract value.

Several international firms, including Lucent, Germany’s Siemens and Canada’s SR Telecom were among the bidders for the contract, which industry sources said was worth SR1.2 billion ($320 million).

Last 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 covers 17 main roads with a total length of 6,000 kilometers. Efforts are under way to cover two more roads with a length of 1,200 km.

The rate of mobile phone growth in the country is estimated at eight to 10 percent a month. The number of mobile subscribers in Saudi Arabia crossed two million by the end of May this year.

STC was set up in 1998 with a capital of over SR12 billion ($3.2 billion) 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 year.

The Saudi telecom giant is now 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.

The sources said the training program, including theoretical explanation and practical training, would boost STC’s Saudization drive. Some 280 Saudis have already graduated from Ericsson’s training center in Riyadh as telecom engineers, assistant engineers and technicians.

Source: Arab News©

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03 July 2001 06:34:18 PM

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