Cellcos MTN Syria and SyriaTel, which operate in the country under Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangements, have been awarded long-term freehold licences by the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE). According to The Syria Report, the 20-year operating concessions take effect on 1 January 2015. No information was disclosed on the licence fees, however.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the previous BOT arrangements provided for revenue sharing between the cellcos and STE and stipulated that the two companies must hand over the networks to the regulator at the end of the arrangement period. In August 2014 MTN Syria revealed ‘significant progress’ in converting the BOT contract to a cellular licence, with parent company MTN Group saying at that date that it anticipated ‘the awarding of the licence and termination of the related BOT contract’ before the end of 2014, with an initial licence fee expected to be between SYP18 billion and SYP25 billion (USD99.6 million and USD138.3 million). Previously, in September 2010 Communication and Technology Minister Imad Sabbouni said that SyriaTel and MTN were each expected to pay SYP25 billion for converting their BOT concessions.