[msnbc] Syria, grappling with political unrest which has seen at least 400 civilians killed, has delayed bidding for the country's third mobile operator license, bid hopeful Saudi Telecom said on Wednesday.
Syria's telecommunication ministry has not set a new date for the financial proposal, state-owned STC said.
STC submitted its technical proposal on March 30 and financial bidding was due to close on April 27.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops are crushing resistance in the southern city of Deraa where the revolt against his autocratic rule began on March 18.
STC was one of five firms to qualify for the Syria license auction, along with Qatar Telecom, Turkcell, France Telecom and UAE group Etisalat. The latter two have dropped plans to bid.
Syria, with a mobile penetration of about 30 percent in 2007, launched a tender to sell the third mobile operator license last September. The two current cellphone operators in Syria are South African company MTN and Syriatel, mostly owned by Syrian businessman Rami Makhlouf.
STC faces increased competition from Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and Zain Saudi in its home market, the biggest Arab economy.
Syria delays bids for mobile license: Saudi Telecom