Out of several proposals SCC has passed to the board, the key question is how many new GSM licences to award in 2004 in competition with the incumbent operator Saudi Telecom. All the proposals are understood to involve the addition of at least one new operator next year. However, it could also be possible to introduce two new licence holders in 2004, or to introduce one next year and another in 2006.

The board must also decide how many very small aperture terminal (VSAT) licences to award when the market opens up later this year.

The board will also have to consider to what extent foreign companies can participate in the liberalisation. The Supreme Economic Council on 3 February relaxed some regulations governing foreign investment in the telecoms market, but the main parts of the sector are still barred to direct foreign investment.

The SCC board is chaired by Khaled al-Gosaibi, acting Posts, Telephones & Telegraphs Minster. Mohammed Mulla, the SCC Governor, is deputy chairman. The board is mainly comprised of government officials, with representatives from the Finance & National Economy Ministry, the Commerce Ministry and the King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology.

Three private-sector representatives are also included (Saudi Arabia, MEED Special Report, 14:9:01, pages 30-33).