Saudi Arabia’s telecoms watchdog the Communications and IT Commission (CITC) has shortlisted three companies to be awarded mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licences. According to the regulator’s press release, the selected companies are Dubai-based Axiom Union Mobile, in collaboration with Zain Saudi Arabia (formerly Saudi MTC), Virgin Mobile MEA (VMMEA), with host provider Saudi Telecoms Company (STC) and Jawraa Group (Lebara), in partnership with Mobily (Etihad Etisalat). MVNOs do not have their own telecoms infrastructure and utilise other operators’ networks to sell mobile services to subscribers. In order to qualify for MVNO licences in Saudi Arabia, companies needed to sign an agreement for alliance with one of the three incumbents in the Kingdom – STC, Zain Saudi Arabia and Mobily. The watchdog stated that the shortlisted MVNOs now have 90 days to meet the requirements for the licence award.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the telecom regulator invited companies to submit applications to bid for the three available MVNO licences in January 2013. Axiom Mobile, Virgin Mobile MEA, Jawraa Group, FastNet Group and Safari Group submitted their MVNO licence applications prior to the deadline of 11 May 2013. The initiative is designed to raise competition between network providers in Saudi Arabia, and to deliver larger variety of packages at reduced prices to end-consumers, the regulator reported on its website