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Saudi Arabia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband


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Saudi Arabia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Saudi Arabia is seeing a shift from ADSL to FTTH

Saudi Arabia's ICT market is the biggest in the Middle East in terms of capital value and volume of spending. The future is promising, with both government and businesses keen on keeping up to date with the latest telecom developments. Smart technologies, in particular, offer interesting opportunities for investors.

The mobile market in Saudi Arabia is fiercely competitive. Reported penetration rates are upward of 180%, but mobile indicators tend to fluctuate due to the country's fluid population with large numbers of pilgrims and expatriate workers. Services are provided by three Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) STC, Mobily, and Zain and by two Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) Virgin Mobile and Lebara. Saudi Arabia is the second country in the gulf region (after Oman) to have allowed MVNOs, but other countries are likely to follow suit, as Saudi Arabia is generally considered the region's trendsetter.

The fixed broadband market is experiencing a major technology shift from ADSL to fibre, with STC expanding FTTH coverage to most urban centres, and another two companies Go Telecom and Mobily also offering FTTH services.

Mobile broadband subscriptions outnumber fixed broadband subscriptions by a long way in Saudi Arabia, which reflects the country's large household size. While fixed broadband normally serves the home, mobile broadband subscriptions are individual. Therefore, mobile broadband subscriptions are likely to continue growing beyond the 100% per capita penetration threshold due to some users having more than one mobile connected device (for example, a smartphone plus a tablet), but fixed-line broadband will hit market saturation when household penetration reaches 100% which is not far away for Saudi Arabia.

Key telecom parameters 2013 - 2015
Sector | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 (e)
Subscribers to telecoms services (million):
Fixed-line telephony | 4.71 | 4.60 | 4.50
Mobile telephony | 50.9 | 51.1 | 52.0
(Source: BuddeComm)

Key developments:

Virgin Mobile launched MVNO services in September 2014, and Jawraa Lebara did so in the following December.
Arabsat is building two new satellites, the HellasSat 4/SaudiGeoSat 1 and the Arabsat 6A, both scheduled for launch in 2018.
Saudi Arabia will be connected to the SEA-ME-WE 5, which is due for completion in 2016.
An agreement under which Mobily would become the majority stakeholder of GO Telecom was cancelled in May 2014, as well as a deal granting GO Telecom the rights to use 50,000 fibre-optic access points belonging to Mobily, but Go Telecom signed a new rights of use deal with STC, which agreed to grant GO Telecom access to 30,000 access points.
Having revoked Axiom Telecom's MVNO licence, the Saudi telecom regulator plans to resubmit it for public tender.
Virgin Mobile provides MVNO services over STC's network, offering two service brands: Virgin Mobile and FRiENDi.

Companies mentioned in this report

Saudi Telecom Company (STC)/Bravo, Integrated Telecom Company (ITC)/Bayn Consortium, GO Telecom/Etihad Atheeb, Mobily/Ettihad Etisalat/Bayanat Al-Oula, Zain KSA, Arabsat, ART, Orbit, Rotana, Lebara KSA/Etihad Jawraa, Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (Virgin Mobile MEA), Axiom Telecom.


1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
2.1 Country overview
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Overview of Saudi Arabia's telecom market
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Background
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Saudi Arabia
4.3.1 Data service provider licences
4.3.2 Fixed-line licences
4.4 Privatisation
4.5 Interconnect and access
4.6 Number Portability (NP)
4.7 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 National telecom network
6.1.1 Alternative operators' infrastructure
6.2 International infrastructure
6.2.1 Submarine cable networks
6.2.2 Satellite networks
7. Telecoms & IT
8. Broadband access market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Censorship
8.1.2 Broadband statistics
8.2 Broadband forecasts
8.2.1 Scenario 1 higher growth
8.2.2 Scenario 2 lower growth
8.3 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
8.4 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
8.5 Fixed-wireless broadband
8.5.1 WiFi
8.5.2 WiMAX
9. Digital Economy/Digital media
9.1 Services
9.1.1 E-government
9.1.2 E-health
9.1.3 E-education
9.1.4 E-commerce
9.2 Smart cities/smart communities
9.2.1 Smart grids
9.2.2 Big Data
9.3 Digital media
9.3.1 Overview
9.3.2 Social media
10. Digital Broadcasting
10.1 Overview of broadcasting market
10.2 Broadband TV (IPTV)
10.3 Satellite-based digital Pay TV
10.3.1 ART
10.3.2 OSN Orbit Showtime
10.3.3 Rotana Media Group
11. Mobile communications
11.1 Overview of Saudi Arabia's mobile market
11.1.1 Mobile statistics
11.2 Regulatory issues
11.2.1 Award of second GSM mobile licence
11.2.2 iDEN contract awarded
11.2.3 Award of Third Generation (3G) licences
11.2.4 Award of third mobile licence
11.2.5 Roaming
11.2.6 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
11.3 Mobile technologies
11.3.1 Analogue
11.3.2 Digital
11.3.3 3G/HSPA
11.3.4 LTE/4G
11.4 Major mobile network operators
11.4.1 Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
11.4.2 Mobily (Ettihad Etisalat)
11.4.3 Zain KSA
11.5 Major mobile virtual network operators
11.5.1 Virgin Mobile
11.5.2 Lebara KSA
11.6 Mobile voice services
11.6.1 Prepaid
11.6.2 Satellite mobile
11.7 Mobile broadband
12. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics - Saudi Arabia 2015
Table 2 Telephone network statistics 2015
Table 3 Internet user statistics 2015
Table 4 Fixed broadband statistics 2015
Table 5 Mobile statistics 2015
Table 6 National telecommunications authority
Table 7 UAE GDP and inflation 2005 - 2019
Table 8 Saudi Arabia mobile, fixed-line and total telecoms revenue 2001 - 2013
Table 9 Fixed and mobile market share 2000 - 2015
Table 10 STC Group revenue and profit 2005 - 2014
Table 11 Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2004
Table 12 Fixed lines in service and teledensity 2005 - 2015
Table 13 International Internet bandwidth 2005 - 2013
Table 14 IT market revenue 2006 - 2015
Table 15 Historic fixed internet users and user penetration - 1995 - 2004
Table 16 Fixed internet users and user penetration 2005 - 2015
Table 17 Fixed broadband subscriptions technologies and penetration 2008 - 2015
Table 18 Mobile broadband subscriptions technologies and penetration 2010 - 2015
Table 19 Fixed and mobile broadband total and market share 2002 - 2015
Table 20 Saudi Arabia household PC penetration 2002 - 2015
Table 21 Forecast mobile broadband subscriptions higher growth scenario 2015, 2020; 2025
Table 22 Forecast mobile broadband subscriptions lower growth scenario 2015, 2020; 2025
Table 23 Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
Table 24 Mobile subscribers and penetration 2005 - 2015
Table 25 Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change 2014
Table 26 Major mobile operators' subscribers and market shares 2005 - 2014
Table 27 Bravo historic financial data 2007 - 2012
Table 28 Bravo historic subscribers and ARPU 2007 2012
Table 29 Mobily revenue and profit 2006 - 2014
Table 30 Zain KSA subscribers and revenue 2008 - 2014
Table 31 Saudi Arabia prepaid subscribers 2002 - 2014
Table 32 Zain prepaid subscribers 2008 - 2014
Chart 1 Fixed and mobile market share 2000 - 2015
Chart 2 Mobile operators' market share 2005 - 2014
Exhibit 1 Wasel service project
Exhibit 2 MBC/Al Arabiya
Exhibit 3 Historical Bravo

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