The Saudi Telecom Company (STC) announced yesterday that its net profits for the first quarter of 2003 rose by 102 percent to SR2.26 billion (U.S. $603 million) compared to the same period last year, with the operating income climbing by 24 percent to SR6.71 billion ($1.79 billion). The huge growth in revenues is attributable to the increase in the number of subscribers to STC services, with large profits from sales of prepaid mobile phone (SAWA) cards. About 300,000 SAWA chips are sold every month. The company has also introduced a high-speed ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) for Internet users at the rate of SR220 ($58.7) a month, in addition to a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) offering high-speed, secure and affordable voice, data and video transmission.
STC's net profit for 2002 is estimated at SR3.55 billion ($0.95 billion). The company has approved the distribution of SR750 million ($200.3 million) in dividends, with the remaining amount kept as reserves.
Meanwhile, STC has awarded an SR2.55 billion ($0.68 billion) project to Ericsson and Nokia to expand the country's mobile phone system by adding 2.8 million lines within two years. The company has a monopoly over mobile services until 2004, and over land telephone lines until 2008.