Saudi Arabia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

Supporting digital technologies is a key component of Saudi Arabia’s future strategy

Saudi Arabia entered 2018 on a positive note with the government announcement of its largest financial budget ever which will support the country’s expansion and diversification plans as part of its Vision 2030 program. Generally speaking; the strategy will implement changes relating to improving the kingdom’s economy through increases in taxes and fuel prices as well as encouraging investment and diversification away from its reliance on oil. It will also support the use of digital technologies for such uses as cloud computing and e-commerce as well as encouraging ICT development, including investments in broadband infrastructure.

Broadband is widely available in Saudi Arabia via ADSL, fibre, and wireless. In 2018 ADSL subscriptions still account for the largest proportion of fixed broadband subscriptions.

Internet penetration in Saudi Arabia has reached over 76%, well above the average for the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is committed to providing Internet services to its deprived rural areas and a special Universal Services project was established in 2007. The program is now over three quarters completed with thousands of localities provided access where it was not considered commercially viable for operators to do so.

The mobile operators have faced recent changes and challenges with the introduction of the biometric fingerprint law which saw subscriber numbers drop, as well as a shift away from pre-paid accounts.

A major competitive shake-up for the Saudi telecoms sector also began in late 2016 when the Saudi government announced plans to award unified licenses to Zain Saudi Arabia and Mobily, which would allow the operators to offer fixed line telephony and Internet services. In the past only STC was permitted to do so. In 2018 Go Telecom’s request for the unified license was rejected however.

Further increasing competition in the mobile market was the recent lifting of OTT VoIP and messaging services bans, allowing providers such as Skype, Viber, Whatsapp and so forth to begin operations again.

This valuable report provides analyses, information, industry statistics and insights in the major players in Saudi Arabia’s telecoms sector. It also includes BuddeComm’s “Middle East Telecoms Maturity Index”, which is an index (on a scale between 0 and 100) that measures and ranks the relative maturity of the telecoms industry in 11 countries in the Middle East.

Recent developments:

  • Competition in the fixed market may increase with Universal Licenses having been awarded to some secondary mobile operators.
  • In September 2017 the CITC lifted its ban on OTT VoIP and messaging applications.
  • The finger-printing regulation for all mobile subscribers impacted upon the mobile sector in terms of both subscribers and revenue.
  • Saudi Arabia is implementing strategies as part of its goals outlined for its 2020 National Transformation Plan as well as the Vision 2030 program.
  • Companies mentioned in this report include:

Saudi Telecom Company (STC)/Bravo, Integrated Telecom Company (ITC)/Bayn Consortium, GO Telecom/Etihad Atheeb, Mobily/Ettihad Etisalat/Bayanat Al-Oula, Zain KSA, Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia, Arabsat.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
    • 2.1 Country overview
  • 3. Telecommunications market
    • 3.1 Market overview
    • 3.2 Market analysis
      • 3.2.1 Universal Licenses
      • 3.2.2 Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
    • 3.3 Summary of key developments
    • 3.4 Regional Middle East market comparison
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Historic overview
    • 4.2 Regulatory authority
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
    • 4.4 Data service provider licences
    • 4.5 Fixed-line licences
    • 4.6 New satellite broadband license
    • 4.7 Interconnect and access
    • 4.8 Number Portability (NP)
    • 4.9 Universal service
  • 5. Fixed network operators in Saudi Arabia
    • 5.1 Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
    • 5.2 Integrated Telecom Company (ITC)
    • 5.3 GO Telecom (Etihad Atheeb)
  • 6. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 6.1 Overview of the national telecom network
      • 6.1.1 Alternative operators’ infrastructure
    • 6.2 International infrastructure (satellite, submarine)
      • 6.2.1 Terrestrial cable networks
      • 6.2.2 Submarine cable networks
      • 6.2.3 Satellite networks
    • 6.3 Specific IT developments (data centres, cloud computing)
  • 7. Smart infrastructure
    • 7.1 M2M/IoT/Big Data
    • 7.2 Smart grids
    • 7.3 Smart cities
  • 8. Broadband access market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
    • 8.2 Internet access
    • 8.3 Censorship
    • 8.4 Broadband statistics
    • 8.5 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
    • 8.6 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
      • 8.6.1 STC
      • 8.6.2 GO Telecom
      • 8.6.3 Mobily
    • 8.7 Other fixed broadband services
      • 8.7.1 WiFi
  • 9. Key Digital economy sectors (m-banking, e-health, videostreaming)
    • 9.1 M-banking
    • 9.2 e-Health
    • 9.3 Videostreaming
  • 10. Mobile communications
    • 10.1 Market overview
    • 10.2 Market analysis
    • 10.3 Mobile statistics
      • 10.3.1 General statistics
      • 10.3.2 Mobile voice
      • 10.3.3 Mobile data
    • 10.4 Mobile broadband statistics
    • 10.5 Regulatory issues
      • 10.5.1 Award of second GSM mobile licence
      • 10.5.2 iDEN contract awarded
      • 10.5.3 Award of Third Generation (3G) licences
      • 10.5.4 Award of third mobile licence
      • 10.5.5 Mobile license extensions 2016
      • 10.5.6 Roaming
      • 10.5.7 MTRs
      • 10.5.8 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
      • 10.5.9 Fingerprinting law
    • 10.6 Mobile infrastructure
      • 10.6.1 GSM, 3G
      • 10.6.2 LTE, LTE-A
      • 10.6.3 Satellite mobile
      • 10.6.4 5G
    • 10.7 IoT and M2M networks
  • 11. Major mobile operators
    • 11.1 Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
    • 11.2 Mobily (Etihad Etisalat)
    • 11.3 Zain KSA
    • 11.4 Mobile handsets
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics – Saudi Arabia - 2018
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2018
  • Table 3 – Broadband statistics – 2018
  • Table 4 – Mobile statistics – 2018
  • Table 5 – National telecommunications authorities
  • Table 6 – Saudi Arabia – GDP and inflation – 2012 - 2018
  • Table 7 – Saudi Arabia – mobile, fixed-line and total telecoms revenue of service providers – 2001 - 2016
  • Table 8 – Fixed telephone teledensity and mobile subscriber penetration – 2012 – Q3 2017
  • Table 9 – STC Group revenue and profit – 2005 – 9M 2017
  • Table 10 – Fixed telephone teledensity – 2012 – Q3 2017
  • Table 11 – Fixed lines in service - 1995 – 2018
  • Table 12 – International Internet bandwidth – 2010 - 2016
  • Table 13 – Fixed internet users and user penetration – 2005 – Q2 2017
  • Table 14 – Fixed broadband subscriptions – technologies and penetration – 2010 – 2018
  • Table 15 – Saudi Arabia – household PC penetration – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 16 - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
  • Table 17 - Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2007 – 2018
  • Table 18 – Major mobile operators’ subscribers and market shares – 2005 – Q1 2017
  • Table 19 – Saudi Arabia – prepaid subscribers – 2002 – Q3 2017
  • Table 20 – Mobile broadband subscriptions – technologies and penetration – 2010 – Q3 2017
  • Table 21 – Mobily revenue and mobile subscribers – 2006 – 9M 2017
  • Table 22 – Zain KSA mobile subscribers and revenue – 2015 – 9M 2017
  • Chart 1 – Middle East - Telecoms Maturity Index (TMI) - 2017
  • Chart 2 – Middle East - Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita - 2017
  • Chart 3 – Middle East – fixed broadband penetration versus mobile broadband penetration – 2017
  • Chart 4 – Major mobile operators market share – 2017 (Q1)
  • Exhibit 1 – Middle East - Key characteristics of telecoms markets by country
  • Exhibit 2 – Historical – Bravo

Related Reports

Purchase this Report

US$750.00

Licence Information

Share this Report

Purchase with Confidence

Paul has been a relentless advocate and tireless activist for making the world a more connected place.

His passion for broadband and his firm belief in its transformational impact on societies across the globe is unrivalled.

I am honoured to call Paul a friend and I trust he will keep up the fight for better broadband and better access to broadband for all people, wherever they live and whatever their background, into the future.

Senator Stephen Conroy, former Communications Minister and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Special Offers

Middle East - Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
US$1,000.00 until 22 Aug 2018
(normal price US$2,000.00)

Iran - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses
US$375.00 until 22 Aug 2018
(normal price US$750.00)

Sample Reports

A selection of downloadable samples from our Annual Publications catalogue.


Download a Sample Report

More than 4,000 customers from 140 countries utilise BuddeComm Research

Are you interested in BuddeComm's Custom Research Service?

News & Views

Have the latest telecommunications industry news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to Paul's FREE weekly News & Views.