AT&T wins dollars 4bn deal to rewire Saudi phones

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The Independent Online
THE American long-distance telephone company AT&T has emerged as the victor in the battle for the dollars 4bn (pounds 2.75bn) contract to modernise the Saudi Arabian telecommunications infrastructure, writes Michael Marray.

The contract, for which the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has signed a letter of intent, calls for the building of a fully digital communications network, to be completed by the beginning of the next decade.

The awarding of the contract to AT&T follows lobbying by President Bill Clinton, and comes in the wake of the decision by the Saudi government to place most of a dollars 6bn aircraft order with US companies Boeing and McDonnell Douglas.

Robert Allen, chairman of AT&T, said 'we appreciate the support that the entire Clinton Administration has provided'.

Analysts viewed winning the contract as a coup for AT&T in the international telecommunications equipment market, seeing off challengers such as Siemens and Ericsson Telephone Co.

AT&T described the contract as being the largest in telecommunications history outside the US. The project involving the installation of 1.5 million digital lines,will double the capacity of Saudi Arabia's facilities.