STC and Zain win mobile spectrum licences in Saudi Arabia

28 January 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Zain have been awarded spectrum licences by the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in the 2,300MHz and 2,600MHz band.

STC confirmed that it had won the auction in the 2,300MHz frequency band, receiving a 15-year licence starting from January 1 2020 to December 31 2034. The company will pay $95.9 million (SAR 360 million) in equal instalments for the licence and have confirmed that it is to be financed internally by the company, not affecting its financial results.

In addition, Zain has said that it won a licence for the 2,600MHz band, which it will use to expand its 4G+ services adding to its existing 800, 900, 1,800, 2,100 and 2,600MHz band.

CITC have said that the auction increases the amount of spectrum designated for mobile services in the region from 420MHz to 710MHz, an increase of roughly 70%.

The news supports the STC’s strategy to develop its networks in the region and contributes to  its Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to establish the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a key hub for telecoms connectivity.

In related news, STC collaborated with The London Internet Exchange (LINX) to launch a new internet exchange in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The internet exchange serve as a neutral internet traffic exchange platform interconnecting global networks in the GCC region.

A month prior, Zain sold 8,100 of its mobile towers in Saud Arabia to HIS holding for $80,000 each in order to reduce its debt. IHS will lease back the passive physical infrastructure to Zain Saudi Arabia, which is 37% owned by the Zain group of Kuwait.