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Thu 30 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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Umniah enters Jordanian market as third GSM player

Dagher believes Jordan’s mobile penetration rate could reach 50-55% within the next 5-7 years.

Jordan’s third GSM operator and fourth mobile player, Umniah Mobile Company is reported to have launched commercial services. As was predicted prior to its market entry, Umniah is reported to have introduced an aggressive pricing strategy aimed at undercutting the two incumbent GSM players.

Earlier this year, Michael Dagher, managing partner of Umniah said the operator intends to offer coverage of up to 92% of Jordan’s population when it launches. “Our licence calls for national roaming and sharing of sites. National roaming is under discussion right now, though we don’t think we’ll need it considering our coverage plans from the first day of operations,” Dagher said at the time.

In April, Jordan Telecom and Umniah signed an interconnection agreement, which includes a commitment to the provisions of the Telecom Interconnection document, which could be amended periodically pending regulatory approval. In addition, the agreement contains legal provisions, services, rates, operation and maintenance procedures, level of service, and terms regarding access of telephone traffic between the two networks. The interconnection agreement includes both MobileCom network as well as that of iDEN operator XPress networks.

Dagher believes Jordan’s mobile penetration rate could reach 50-55% within the next 5-7 years. He estimates that his company will invest up to US$350 million in network deployment over that period, with Umniah gaining a proportionate market share. “The Jordanian government will reap benefits of US$600 million in the next 5-7 years as a result of this investment,” Dagher forecasts.

The main shareholders in Umniah include Dagher in his personal capacity, together with the Fouad Al Ghanem and Sons Group of Companies, a company based in Kuwait. The licensee’s strategic partners are Chinese equipment vendor Huawei Technologies and Hewlett Packard, which was awarded a contract to supply Umniah with the IT infrastructure required to build its business support system.

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