Saudi Arabia: Free WiMax for Ramadan.

 Mobily, a GSM operator in Saudi Arabia, announced earlier this month, that their new WiMAX network will be free for new subscribers during the month of Ramadan. New subscribers will also receive free installation and CPE modems.

The Mobily WiMAX service will be available in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and Khobar. Mobily says that eventually its WiMAX network will cover all of Saudi Arabia. Mobily is a now a major telecommunications provider in Saudi Arabia, owning the majority of the Kingdom’s fibre-optic network, which it acquired with Bayanat Communications last year.

Mobily’s acquisition of data communications operator Bayanat was granted in March. Mobily’s “broadband@home” service is the Kingdom’s first and only prepaid WiMAX offering.

Communications in Saudi Arabia is dominated by three cellular carriers.

(1) Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has the biggest cellular market share and over 18.5 million subscribers. The company covers 98 percent of Saudi Arabia, about 2,600 cities and villages.

(2) Mobily, was the winning bidder for Saudi Arabia’s second GSM licence, breaking Saudi Telecom’s monopoly. It entered the market in May 2005 and provides mobile telecom services nationwide. It has more than 6 million GSM subscribers with 0.5 million 3G users.

(3) Zain Saudi Arabia, the third operator, entered the Saudi telecom market only last month. Zain, which began in Kuwait, now serves over 50 million customers and operates in 22 countries across the Middle East and Africa.

A price war may be imminent for the Saudi Kingdom’s three mobile phone operators since the market penetration rate has crossed 100 percent, a senior Saudi Telecom Company (STC) official said.

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