The celebrations organized by the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) to mark the completion of a number of projects, were opened today by Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz.
Addressing the gathering, STC board member Abdulaziz Bin Muhammad Al-Huqail reviewed the company's achievements since its formation in its goal of accelerating expansion projects, saying new projects are tackling increased linkages, upgraded performance, and transferal to the digital system. Since STC's establishment, 850,000 telephone lines and 400,000 mobile links have been installed, and the international call circuits doubled, from 5,000 to 10,000, linking the Kingdom with 240 countries by satellite. This reflects a rate of installation of about 100,000 a month, 80,000 fixed and 20,000 mobile. The telephone exchanges now have a capacity of 3.5 million digital lines, all of them Y2K compliant. He drew attention to the fact that the company has contributed to the operation of the Internet in the Kingdom, working in collaboration with the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). In conclusion, he praised the wisdom of the Saudi government in privatizing the telecommunications sector.
For his part, Minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones (PTT) Dr. Ali Bin Talal Al-Juhani, who is also Chairman of STC's Board, recalled that the founder of the Kingdom King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud always demonstrated great interest in telecommunications, and used the telegraph as his day-to-day means of communication with his aides.
At a press conference following the celebrations, Prince Nayef answered a number of questions. He categorically denied reports from Russia of a Saudi role supporting rebels in Chechnya. He announced that the STC would eventually be converted into a share-holding company. Discussing safety measures, he warned against using cell phones while driving. He reiterated that the new sponsorship system would secure the interests of all parties, and confirmed that no foreign worker would be deprived of his rights.