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Etihad Atheeb starts Internet, breaks STC monopoly

Saudi Telecom's fixed-line monopoly in Saudi Arabia has been broken. Etihad Atheeb Telecoms has now commenced operations in the Saudi Capital Riyadh and in the port of Jeddah. It is expected that the percentage of the Saudi population with high-speed Internet will now soar.


Atheeb Chairman Prince Abdul-Aziz bin Ahmed bin Abdul-Aziz is very confident that this opening up of the market to sometimes very vigorous competition will benefit ordinary people, not least in the area of high-speed Internet becoming standard and replacing slow dial-up: "Only 5.3% of the population have access to high-speed Internet...and a quarter have slow dial up Internet."


The fierce competition referred to is expected from STC and two other firms successful in winning fixed-line licences last year: al-Mutakamilah Company, which is led by Hong Kong's PCCW to offer services, and  Optical Communications, led by Verizon of the USA.


Etihad Atheeb is clear in commitment and ambition - in fixed-line it would like to invest US$1 billion by 2014. Targets for the investment are believed to be not only industry and government but also those regions where STC is insufficiently represented. Internet too could be lucrative: STC has one million Internet customers but it has recently cut Internet tariff by 70%.


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