Zain Saudi Arabia has set a date to launch the Kingdom’s third national GSM mobile phone network on 15 August. According to a company official, Zain is determined to launch before Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, which this year begins in early September and is followed by the Islamic holiday of Eid, a time when Middle East phone networks experience higher levels of traffic. A group led by Kuwait-based Zain acquired the third national GSM licence in March 2007 for USD6.11 billion, and its launch has been pushed back from earlier predictions of June 2008. The start-up operator raised USD1.68 billion in an initial public offering in February this year. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, in February Zain signed a national 2G and 3G roaming agreement with existing Saudi operator Mobily to enable it to offer a nationwide service while it rolls out its own 2G/3G/3.5G network. Mobily had 42.5% of Saudi Arabia’s 28 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2007, behind Saudi Telecom Company (STC) with a total of around 17 million users; iDEN network operator Public Telecom Company (Bravo) had less than 100,000 customers at the same date.