The development of Saudi Arabia’s mobile market shows no signs of slowing, with both the incumbent operator STC and the newly licensed Etisalat-led consortium announcing rollout plans. Etisalat recently revealed that it was planning to launch cellular services in 14 Saudi cities in March next year and will spend AED3.7 billion (USD1 billion) on its network rollout over the next six months. This is the initial part of its planned AED20 billion investment over the next 25 years.
Meanwhile, the board of Saudi Arabia’s dominant telco STC has approved the seventh expansion project of its mobile service AlJawal. STC, which had around eight million GSM customers by the end of June, is adding capacity for another two million lines, as well as improving coverage in remote areas and introducing high speed data services. The expansion will cost the company SAR1.12 billion (USD300 million) and is due to be complete in the next twelve months. With a mobile penetration of around 37% by mid-2004 there is still plenty of room for growth in the Saudi cellular sector.