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. Also 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.

Recent developments:

  • Competition in the fixed market may increase with Universal Licenses having been awarded to 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
  • 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 - 2017
  • Table 2 – Telecom revenue and investment statistics – 2016
  • Table 3 – Telephone network statistics – Q2 2017
  • Table 4 – Broadband statistics – Q2 2017
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – Q2 2017
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authorities
  • Table 7 – Saudi Arabia – GDP and inflation – 2012 - 2018
  • Table 8 – Saudi Arabia – mobile, fixed-line and total telecoms revenue of service providers – 2001 - 2016
  • Table 9 – Fixed telephone teledensity and mobile subscriber penetration – 2012 – Q2 2017
  • Table 10 – STC Group revenue and profit – 2005 – 9M 2017
  • Table 11 – Fixed telephone teledensity – 2012 – Q2 2017
  • Table 12 – Fixed lines in service - 1995 – Q2 2017
  • Table 13 – International Internet bandwidth – 2010 - 2016
  • Table 14 – Fixed internet users and user penetration – 2005 – Q2 2017
  • Table 15 – Fixed broadband subscriptions – technologies and penetration – 2010 – Q2 2017
  • Table 16 – Saudi Arabia – household PC penetration – 2002 - 2016
  • Table 17 - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
  • Table 18 - Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2007 – Q2 2017
  • Table 19 – Major mobile operators’ subscribers and market shares – 2005 – Q1 2017
  • Table 20 – Saudi Arabia – prepaid subscribers – 2002 - Q2 2017
  • Table 21 – Mobile broadband subscriptions – technologies and penetration – 2010 – Q2 2017
  • Table 22 – Mobily revenue and mobile subscribers – 2006 – 9M 2017
  • Table 23 – Zain KSA mobile subscribers and revenue – 2015 – 9M 2017
  • Chart 1 – Major mobile operators market share – Q1 2017
  • Exhibit 1 – Historical – Bravo

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