The Communications & Information Technology Commission (CITC) awarded in late July two 15-year data communication services licences as part of its ongoing programme to liberalise the local telecommunications sector.

Bayn Consortium, formerly Samawat Consortium, and Bayanat al-Oula for Network Servicesbeat off competition from five other bidders to win the licences, which will enable firms to offer nationwide internet protocol transit and access, leased lines and managed data network services, among other services.

The two groups were not the highest bidders for the licences, quoting in the range of $80 million, but scored highly on their technical proposals. Under a recently developed commercial provisioning fee structure, the new data services licensees will pay 4 per cent of their net revenues in the first year of operations to the government, increasing to 6 per cent in the second year and to 8 per cent from the third year (MEED 16:4:04).

CITC plans to award the kingdom’s second GSM licence in the fourth quarter. Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat)is frontrunner to take the award, having submitted the highest bid (MEED 16:7:04).