The Lebanese telecom firm Investcom and the Syrian-Egyptian SyriaTel were awarded 15-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) licenses to expand Syria’s mobile phone network, according to the official daily of the ruling Baath Party Thursday.
The two firms beat out Turkish mobile operator Telsim, and are due to start installing 85,000 cellular lines as soon as the contracts are signed.
Under the terms of the new contract, the two companies will have to expand the existing trial mobile network by 150,000 lines by February 2002, to reach 1.7 million lines over several phases in order to cover the whole Syrian territory.
They will be paying the Syrian government $20 million each for frequencies and waves they will be using. Investcom and SyriaTel are also required to settle 30 percent of total revenues to the Syrian Telecommunications Company during the first three years, 40 percent in the fourth and fifth years, and 50 percent for the remaining years.
Investcom, owned by the Mikati group, and SyriaTel, which comprises the Egyptian company
Orascom and Syrian partners, have installed an experimental mobile phone network in Syria last February.
Siemens and Ericsson offered 60,000 lines for the pilot project, but only 13,000 people took up the offer due to the high network access cost of some $1,200,and only 30,000 lines were built. The two companies are estimated to have spent $31 million on the initial mobile network that was set up in the main cities of Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia for a trial period of one year.
According to an agreement with Investcom and SyriaTel , Siemens and Ericsson will be providing the necessary equipment needed for the project.
Following the new expansion, the yearly access fee will drop from an equivalent of $1,200 to $400 with a monthly subscription of around $12. The mobile-to-mobile call toll will remain at nearly $0.08 while that from fixed-line to mobile will be set at $0.14. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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