Who Does What: Middle East Carriers

Kuwait (population 2.5 million) awarded its third mobile license in November to Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) , which won the auction with a bid of $908 million. The country does not yet have an independent regulatory authority, though a telecom regulator is expected to be established within the next year.

Kuwait's mobile penetration is above 100 percent of the population, and both of its mobile operators have built extensive operations abroad to pursue further growth.

Kuwait Telecom
State-owned Kuwait Telecom remains the country's fixed-line monopoly.

Kuwait-based Zain Group 's operations, formerly Mobile Telecommunications Co. (MTC), has evolved from one of the Middle East's first mobile operators, which launched in 1983. The company received a GSM license in 2000 and launched 3G services in April 2006.

Zain had 1.54 million subscribers in its domestic market at the end of September, a 58 percent market share.

Zain operates in six countries in the Middle East, in Sudan, and in 14 other countries in Africa through its Celtel International B.V. subsidiary, for a total subscriber base of 24.77 million as of Sept. 30. The carrier has since acquired Westel in Ghana.

Read more about the carrier on its Website.

Wataniya Telecom
Wataniya Telecom launched mobile services in Kuwait in 1999 and now has more than 1 million subscribers in its domestic market.

The company was acquired by Qatar Telecom QSC (Qtel) from Kuwait Projects Company Holding KSC (KIPCO) group in March this year for $3.7 billion.

Wataniya upgraded its domestic GSM/UMTS network to HSDPA in 2006.

Outside Kuwait, Wataniya International has operations in Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Iraq, and Palestine. Wataniya's total customer base at Sept. 30 was 8.2 million.

Read more about the carrier on its Website.

Next Page: Lebanon

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