Silki La Silki National Telecommunications (SLS) has been recently awarded a seven year BOT contract (build, operate and transfer) for the payphone network of Saudi Arabia, reports the Saudi Economic Survey. In competition with two other telecom groups, SLS came out the winner for the project.
SLS will take over the existing network of 3000 payphones and increase the total to 100,000 within five years. Currently SLS has long-term contracts to provide payphone services in both Syria and Jordan.
Quoting a senior banker, the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) has reported that the contract is worth about $150 million to SLS. The acquisition and installation of the payphones is reported by MEED to be worth some $587 million. The payphone equipment will be purchased from Swiss Landis & Gyr and IPM of Italy.
SLS was created by the merger of prince Al-Waleed Ibn Talal’s internet holdings company, Kingdom Communications, of and the telecom equipment firm, National Group for Communications & Computers Ltd (NGC), owned by Abdul Aziz Al-Hagbani who is also the president of SLS.
Prince Al-Waleed and Al-Hagbani have extensive backgrounds in the regional telecom industry. Both have substantial investments in the construction and operation of internet, paging, payphone, and satellite networks in Jordan, Syria, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
In alliance with Thuraya, a satellite telecommunications company from the UAE, SLS is becoming a major player in the telecommunications provider sweepstakes. On October 18th, the Thuraya-1 will be launched and is expected to be operational in 2001. This satellite, with a 12-year life span, will provide service for the entire SLS payphone network in Saudi Arabia as well as mobile coverage in 99 countries in Africa, Europe and Asia and the Middle East.
MEED reported in February that a trial network was established in Yanbu, as well as the installation of 5200 payphones in Makkah, Jeddah, and Medina in preparation for the annual pilgrimage in March. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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