The Saudi government has selected three firms to run national fixed line operators in competition with incumbent telco STC. Consortia led by Batelco of Bahrain, Verizon Communications of the US and Hong Kong’s PCCW have won initial approval from the country’s telecoms regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC). Their applications must now pass to the Council of Ministers for final approval. The new entrants are expected to launch next year, bringing the first full-scale competition to the Saudi wireline sector. Verizon, which will also be working with Luxembourg-based Millicom, plans to deploy a national cable network, while the other two winning bidders say they will use wireless broadband technology, likely to be WiMAX. The three firms must commit to offering at least 25% of their capital to the public and 10% to state pension funds prior to their commercial launch, Reuters reports.