United Arab Emirates-based Etisalat said Tuesday that it has been awarded the third national mobile licence for Iran, under a partnership with local player Taameen Telecom.
Etisalat, which owns 49 per cent of the consortium with Taameen, will pay Eur300m for the licence, allowing the UAE company to launch 2G and 3G services in Iran.
The UAE-based operator has been seeking out acquisition targets for the past year, as competition in its domestic market becomes increasingly fierce.
In September, Etisalat struck an agreement to buy 45 per cent of Indian mobile operator Swan Telecom for $900m in cash. Swan is a recently licensed GSM mobile operator in India, holding Universal Access Service (UASL) licenses in 13 telecom service areas, and is in the process of acquiring licenses in an additional two service areas.
Etisalat currently operates in 17 international markets with combined total population of 1.6 billion people and has more than 74 million subscribers. In Iran, Etisalat will compete against TCI with 29.8 million subscribers, and Irancell with 15.5 million subscribers at end-2008. The country also supports a couple of provincial GSM operators as well - MTCE and RIC.
"The telecom market in the Islamic Republic of Iran has a very promising future, mainly due to its rapidly growing population estimated at 73 million people , young generation constitutes a large percentage of the population, and the low penetration rate of mobile telephony and other telecommunications services with around 40 million 2G subscribers divided between two national operators and 3 other regional operators. We are confident of the growth potential of this important market especially with our two year exclusivity to offer 3G services," said Jamal Al Jarwan, CEO if international investments at Etisalat.