Saudi Arabia’s telecoms watchdog the Communications and IT Commission (CITC) has extended the deadline for applications for the country’s third mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licence to 7 July 2014. According to a press release, the decision was taken after unnamed ‘interested parties’ requested an extension to the previous deadline.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in April 2014 the CITC announced that it would re-tender the third MVNO licence, after revoking the authorisation provisionally granted to Dubai-based retailer Axiom Telecom. Axiom CEO Faisal al-Bannai revealed that his firm had been unable to submit all of the necessary documentation, prompting the cancellation. The development was a setback for Axiom’s domestic host provider Zain Saudi Arabia, with the operator forced to watch as the country’s two approved MVNOs prepared to launch on its rivals’ platforms. Zain Saudi CEO Hassan Kabbani argued: ‘All three MVNOs should start at the same time when all will be ready’, although the regulator has argued that the launch of services by Virgin Mobile and Jawraa Group (Lebara) remains an independent issue.
Meanwhile, in a related development, MVNO group Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (VMMEA) has announced that it concluded a USD15 million senior secured facility with the Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME), in order to fund its operations in Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and South Africa.