Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has awarded Zain Saudi Arabia a contract worth SAR40 million (USD10.7 million) to provide mobile telephony and broadband services to more than 500 housing compounds in the Al Jouf, Jazan and Northern provinces of the country. Zain has confirmed that the deal forms part of the CITC’s Universal Services Fund (USF) programme, which is aimed at connecting the whole of the Saudi Arabian populace to mobile and broadband services. Zain reportedly offered the lowest bid to roll out infrastructure in these areas, although it is unclear which other companies were interested in the tender.
Ahmed Al-Faifi, chief operating officer (COO) of Zain Saudi Arabia, commented: ‘Zain Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with the CITC last week, and will soon start working on the project. We will deliver services to people living in those areas by expanding the network and establishing new sites to ensure high quality in data and voice services. We believe that by undertaking the project we are contributing to the empowerment of citizens and residents’. Villages mooted for connectivity include: Gurayat, Jandal, and Skaka (Al Jouf), El Daer, Al Dareb and Al Rith (Jazan) and Arar, Rafha, and Tareef (Northern Border Region). Some of the outlying villages are believed to house as few as five to ten residences. Since launching commercial services in Saudi Arabia in August 2008 Zain has amassed a subscriber base of 7.1 million customers, covering 83% of the population in the process. Al-Faifi has indicated that the company’s progress is a key factor behind ‘reducing the time period set for this enormous project’.