The Etisalat-led consortium which won the second GSM licence in Saudi Arabia has revealed that it plans to spend AED3.7 billion (USD1 billion) in six months to get the service off the ground. The initial outlay is just part of the AED20 billion which the group has said it will invest over the next 25 years. UAE-based Etisalat plans to have a network with capacity for one million lines in service within six months, with initial coverage in the main Saudi cities and along major highways. GSM services will be offered nationwide within five years.
Etisalat also received a 3G concession as part of its licence award and the company says it will be offering high speed services within six months of receiving its licence. Mobile services in Saudi Arabia are currently monopolised by Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and the operator had around eight million subscribers by mid-2004.