Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and Zain Saudi Arabia have announced that they have paid the first instalments (30% of the total sum) for the acquisition of additional spectrum in the 1800MHz band. Zain paid SAR253.8 million (USD68 million) before the deadline of 11 September, while Mobily paid SAR126.9 million; the remainder of the fees are to be paid in equal instalments (7% of the total each) over ten years, with the first instalment due in 2019. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Saudi telecoms regulator the Communications and IT Commission (CITC) awarded additional spectrum in the 1800MHz band to Zain and Mobily in June, following an auction which was held on 23 May. Zain Saudi secured 2×10MHz in the 1800MHz band for SAR844 million, while Mobily was awarded a 2×5MHz paired block in the 1800MHz band for SAR422 million. The concessions are valid for a period of 15 years, effective 1 January 2018.
In other news, the CITC has unblocked access to over-the-top (OTT) VoIP applications, with IP calls via Skype, Viber and the likes allowed from today (21 September), Zawya writes. The ban was implemented back in June 2013 due to unspecified ‘violations of the Kingdom’s regulatory requirements’.