The project will entail a one-two-year provision of services as part of MCI’s planned expansion of the state-run GSM network, which currently stands at 3.4 million subscribers. The lump-sum contract will include procurement, installation, maintenance and optimisation of parts of the mobile network for a limited period.

The three main equipment vendors in Iran – Finland’s Nokia, Germany’s Siemensand Sweden’s Ericsson– are expected to share the work. General contractors must secure the support of at least one vendor in their bid. Nokia will support a consortium of Aryan Qeshm Investment Company (AQIC), an affiliate of the UK’s Balli Group, and Iran Telecommunications Industries (ITI)with Iran Telecommunications Industry, which is partly owned by the Information Technology & Communications Ministry. Siemens is in discussions with two contractors: Novin Ertebadand the government-owned ITMC. Ericsson is also in negotiations with two contractors but is trying to secure a general contractor licence for its local affiliate to bid for the project alone.

The MCI expansion is part of Tehran’s programme to significantly expand GSM capacity. A consortium led by the local Rafsanjan Industrial Complex is developing a pre-paid network on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. Signing is also pending for the second GSM licence, for which Turkcellis the preferred bidder (see page 19).