STC awarded contracts in August to Sweden’s Ericssonand Nokiaof Finland to expand GSM capacity by some 2.6 million lines. The company has said that it plans to increase network capacity by 1 million lines a year over the next four or five years. By the beginning of 2003, STC expects to have 4.5 million subscribers and to have expanded total network capacity to 5.6 million users.

Marconi (MSI) will advise STC on reducing network hardware costs and redesigning existing infrastructure. The company will also market the use of wireless application protocol (WAP) technology and high-speed data services in the kingdom.

The next major development in the GSM sector will be the launch of a second operating licence to run in competition with STC. The timing of the launch will be determined by the Saudi Communications Commission (SCC), which is being set up under the leadership of Mohammed Mulla (MEED 14:12:01).