Ten consortia led by international firms, including India's MTNL, are competing for Saudi Arabia's second landline phone license, which will break the monopoly of Saudi Telecom Company in the middle east's largest telecom market.
"The Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has received applications from 10 consortia in response to the request forms issued on October 24, 2006," a CITC statement said.
Saudi Telecom has about four million fixed line customers in the country with a population of nearly 27 million.
"During the coming weeks, STC will study and evaluate the applications, based on the criteria specified in the request for applications (RFA)," Sultan Al Malik, a spokesman of the commission, told Arab News.
The 10 consortia include Al-Shola (MTNL India), Khaled Ahmed Al-Juffali Co (WorldCall Telecom of Pakistan), Makkah Telecom (China Telecom), and Bayanat (Korea Telecom).
Others in the fray are Optical Communications Company (Verizon), Saudi Telecom Holding (Qtel-Atco), Al-Mutakamilah (Hong Kong's PCCW), Electronet (Autelia of Italy), Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and Atheeb Telecom (Batelco of Bahrain).
Indian companies are also vying for Saudi Arabia's third mobile license, which is expected to generate SR20 billion for the Kingdom. Last month, the CITC said nine consortia led by Egypt's Orascom Telecom, Kuwait's Mobile Telecom Telecom Co (MTC) and South Africa's MTN among others were vying for the third mobile license.