At last, the third Syrian mobile phone network looks like becoming a reality.
Six companies have bid for the licence:
Etisalat from the UAE,
Saudi Telecom from Saudi Arabia,
Qatar Telecom from Qatar,
Turkcell from Turkey,
Tamco from Iran,
and the only non-regional bidder, France Telecom.
Interestingly, Kuwait’s Zain is not in the running. It was Zain and Turkcell which unsuccessfully tried to take over Syriatel in 2008.
The Syrian Ministry of Telecommunications and a German company, Detykon, will select two bidders in December to go through to the next round.
The lucrative contract will provide access to one of the region’s few remaining virgin territories. It is thought there is more room for expansion than in any other Arab country. Syria has just 47% mobile penetration.