VIRGIN Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA) is one of three companies to win a virtual telecom licence in Saudi Arabia, the industry regulator said on Sunday, in the latest step to liberalise the kingdom’s communications sector.
Five companies had bid for the Saudi mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licences. MVNOs not own the networks they use to provide communications services but instead lease capacity from conventional operators, usually paying them a percentage of their revenue as well as fees.
VMMEA, part-owned by entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, will launch an MVNO on former monopoly Saudi Telecom Co’s network, the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said in statement on its website.
Jawraa Lebara has joined with second-biggest operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), while Dubai-based retailer Axiom Telecom will team up with Zain Saudi. Local companies FastNet and Safari were the losing bidders.
VMMEA has MVNOs in Jordan, South Africa and Oman. London-based Lebara Group has operations in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Australia.
City A.M. Reporter