A consortium of Iranian companies will reportedly be granted a licence to launch a mobile service operation in Syria under agreements to expand economic ties between the two countries, Al Arabiya writes. The five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed at a ceremony attended by Syrian Prime Minister Emad Khamis and Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in Tehran on 17 January.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate in November 2016, a number of Iranian companies were said to have set their sights on taking a share in a proposed third Syrian mobile network operator to compete with South African-backed MTN Syria and domestically-owned SyriaTel. According to an unnamed ‘official’ source, the government-owned fixed line incumbent operator Syrian Telecom (ST, formerly Syrian Telecommunications Establishment [STE]) would take a minority stake of approximately 20% in the proposed new Iranian-backed third mobile operator. TeleGeography notes that previous attempts to attract further cellular competition to Syria via international tenders collapsed in 2011 as political unrest gripped the country, with the new development indicating a change in policy away from open tenders and towards ‘closed-doors’ negotiations.