Huawei, Siemens win GSM upgrade expansion

22 October 2004
China's Huawei Technologiesand Germany's Siemenshave received letters of intent for the two main packages on the programme to install 3 million new GSM lines across the kingdom for Saudi Telecom. The programme is part of Saudi Telecom's drive to serve a rapidly expanding GSM subscriber base - now at about 8 million - and in anticipation of competition next year. The development coincided with the launch of the initial public offering (IPO) in Ettihad Etisalat, the consortium led by the UAE's Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), which will start operating the kingdom's second GSM network in March 2005 (MEED 23:7:04).

Both contracts are valued at about SR 300 million ($80 million). Huawei's portion covers the provision of switching and other equipment for 3 million lines across the country, while Siemens will supply and install base stations supporting 1.5 million new GSM lines in the kingdom's northwestern, western and central regions. Saudi Telecom is close to awarding the remaining 1.5 million-base station package, which will cover some central areas and the south of the country. It is understood that the client is in talks with Sweden's Ericssonand Finland's Nokia. Completion of the kingdom-wide expansion is expected in the first half of 2005.

Ettihad Etisalat on 16 October launched its SR 1,000 million ($267 million) IPO, which will be open to the public for 10 days and be followed by listing on the Saudi stock market. The operator is also gearing up to launch a SR 400 million ($107 million) rights issue in the near future, pending final approval from local authorities.

Ettihad Etisalat aims at covering 14 cities and attracting 1 million subscribers in the first year of operations (MEED 8:10:04).

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