By Philip Fenton
Orascom Telecom has signed up Alcatel to construct its GSM network in Tunisia.
Orascom Telecom has announced it has enlisted French telecoms giant Alcatel to construct its Tunisian GSM network, less than a week after it finally signed the contract for the US$454 million licence.The deal, valued at $125 million, will see Alcatel construct and maintain a nationwide GSM 900/1800 MHz in Tunisia over the next five years.Beginning around the cities of Tunis and Hammamet, the network will eventually cater for over 500,000 subscribers.Alcatel will supply Orascom Telecom Tunisia with its Evolium solution, which comprises radio base station subsystems, a core network sub system including a mobile switching centre and a home location register.“This contract is the logical continuation of our relationships with Alcatel,” said JP. Roaeland, CEO of Orascom Telecom Tunisia. “We are now looking forward to Alcatel’s continued commitment to guarantee the timely commercial launch of the network within the next six months.”This latest deal is merely an extension of the relationship already enjoyed between the two companies, explained Naguib Sawiris, chairman of the board of Orascom Telecom. “After Algeria, this represents another significant milestone in our partnership with Alcatel for the development of Orascom Telecom in the Middle East & Africa. In the coming two years, Orascom Telecom expects to grab a significant portion of Tunisia’s estimated three million subscribers’ potential. This will, in turn, reinforce our GSM leadership position in the Arab world.”Tunisia’s population of 10 million people has so far been served by a single GSM network, run since 1996 by state owned Tunisie Telecom. With a limited capacity of 400,000 subscribers, more than 300,000 people are currently registered on the waiting list for GSM services.