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

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Last updated: 25 May 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 98

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) capitalises on tower infrastructure

Saudi Arabia offers one of the most progressive telecoms markets in the Middle East and is well positioned to capitalise on the potential opportunities offered by 5G. Mobile penetration is considered high in and the market is heavily saturated, with a large number of mobile broadband users.

The mobile operators are competitive and comprise of Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily and Zain KSA - as well as MVNOs. The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has resulted in more workers, students and citizens being based at home and the telecoms operators are expecting more demand for their services. The operators have demonstrated a sense of social responsibility during the Covid-19 crisis by launching various initiatives to support society in terms of education, enterprise, and healthcare.

Recently the operators have been exploring ways to monetise the thousands of mobile towers spread throughout Saudi Arabia. In 2019 STC established a subsidiary to manage its tower infrastructure, called TAWAL.

5G is firmly on the agenda for Saudi Arabia with the regulator awarding new spectrum for 4G/5G use in early 2019. STC, Zain KSA and Mobily have all developed various 5G partnerships with solution providers like Huawei, Nokia, Cisco and Ericsson and the three operators have launched preliminary services.

While Saudi Arabia’s fixed broadband penetration is considered low on a global scale; there has been significant work towards developing fibre-based networks instead of DSL, which still comprise the largest market share.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains all around the world. During this time, the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device and ICT equipment production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to source necessary equipment or manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may also be postponed or slowed down in some countries. On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services is likely to be impacted by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. In contrast, the demand for mobile and broadband services is expected to rise, as more citizens will require online services for work, entertainment, education, tele-health and social purposes.

This valuable BuddeComm report provides analyses, information, industry statistics and insights into in Saudi Arabia’s progressive telecoms sector.

Kylie Wansink, BuddeComm, 2020.

Recent developments:

  • Competition will increase further with two new MVNO licenses offered for tender by the Regulator in 2020.
  • In mid-2019 both STC and Zain KSA launched their first 5G networks.
  • Zain KSA announced in late 2019 that it was going to offer commercial 5G network roaming services between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
  • Universal Services Licenses have been awarded in Saudi Arabia.
  • An infrastructure sharing agreement was established in 2019; allowing Zain KSA to utilise the fibre-based infrastructure of Saudi Telecom Company (STC).
  • Saudi Arabia is implementing strategies as part of its the Vision 2030 program.

Companies mentioned in this report include:

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

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