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Executive summary

Fingerprinting law impacts upon mobile subscriber growth in Saudi ArabiaThe mobile sector has become an important component of Saudi Arabia’s telecom industry and contributes around 75% to overall telecoms revenues. The popularity of mobile technology is also driving up Internet usage as Saudi Arabia has a very high mobile phone penetration coupled with a high ownership of smart phones. This has led to a growth in Internet usage in recent years and a rising demand on mobile broadband services.

However, the growth of the mobile sector recently faltered due primarily to a regulatory change. In order to tighten control and security of mobile phone usage and ownership; in early 2016 the Saudi Ministry of Interior began implementing its biometric fingerprinting law. The law was originally passed in September 2015 and requires consumers to supply their fingerprint when purchasing a SIM card, with the information being shared with the National Information Centre. The law resulted in a marked decline in mobile subscribers in 2016, including mobile broadband subscriptions.

Broadband penetration is growing strongly in Saudi Arabia. Broadband is available via ADSL, fibre, and wireless. In 2017 ADSL subscriptions still account for the largest proportion of fixed broadband subscriptions.

Looking at the larger picture; Saudi Arabia has its sights firmly set upon improving its economic strength and diversifying away from its reliance on oil. The government has developed the “Saudi Arabia Vision 2030” program which provides the country with a roadmap of goals and objectives for the future improvement of Saudi Arabia. Supporting the use of digital technologies such as cloud computing and encouraging ICT development feature heavily in Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future.

Key telecom parameters – 2013; 2016
Sector    2013   2016
Subscribers to telecoms services (million): (e)
Fixed Broadband         2.93.0
Fixed-line telephony    4.93.5
Mobile phone              50.948.0

Key developments:

In 2017 both STC and Zain Saudi Arabia forged managed services partnerships which will see their networks upgraded and improved. Zain signed a five-year deal with Ericsson and STC formed a three-year partnership with Cisco.
Saudi Arabia’s regulator, the CITC, has raised the possibility of regulating cloud computing in order to promote and encourage its development.
In February 2017 Go Telecom’s losses were exceeding its capital.
In December 2016, the SeaMeWe-5 submarine cable system was completed. SeaMeWe-5 connects Saudi Arabia as well as 15 other countries.
In 2016 STC purchased a further 25.8% share of Kuwait’s Viva giving STC a 51.8% stake.
In late 2016 the Saudi government planned to award unified licenses to Zain Saudi Arabia, Mobily and GO Telecom, which would allow the operators to offer fixed line telephony services. In the past only STC was permitted to do so.

Companies covered 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, Arabsat, ART, Orbit, Rotana, Lebara KSA/Etihad Jawraa, Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (Virgin Mobile MEA), Axiom Telecom,VIVA, Saudi Electricity Company (SEC).
1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
2.1 Country overview
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Historical overview
3.2 Market analysis
3.3 Market analysis
3.3.1 Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
3.4 Recent developments
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Historic overview
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation
4.4 Data service provider licences
4.4.1 Fixed-line licences
4.4.2 New satellite broadband license
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 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
9. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
9.1 Introduction
10. Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP)
10.1 Introduction
10.2 STC
10.3 GO Telecom
10.4 Mobily
11. Other fixed broadband services
11.1 Fixed wireless (WiFi and WiMAX)
11.1.1 WiFi
11.1.2 WiMAX
12. Digital economy
12.1 e-Commerce
12.2 e-Banking and m-Banking
12.3 e-Government
12.4 e-Health
12.5 e-Education
13. Digital media
13.1.1 Introduction
13.2 Videostreaming
13.2.1 Broadband TV (IPTV)
13.3 Social media
14. Mobile communications
14.1 Market analysis
14.2 Mobile statistics
14.2.1 General statistics
14.2.2 Mobile voice
14.2.3 Mobile data
14.3 Mobile broadband statistics
14.4 Regulatory issues
14.4.1 Award of second GSM mobile licence
14.4.2 iDEN contract awarded
14.4.3 Award of Third Generation (3G) licences
14.4.4 Award of third mobile licence
14.4.5 Mobile license extensions 2016
14.4.6 Roaming
14.4.7 MTRs
14.4.8 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
14.4.9 Fingerprinting law
14.5 Mobile infrastructure
14.5.1 GSM, 3G
14.5.2 LTE, LTE-A
14.5.3 Satellite mobile
14.6 IoT and M2M networks
14.7 Major mobile operators
14.7.1 Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
14.7.2 Mobily (Etihad Etisalat)
14.7.3 Zain KSA
14.8 Mobile content and applications
14.8.1 m-commerce
14.8.2 m-banking (payments/loans)
14.9 Mobile handsets
15. Related reports
Table 1 – Country statistics – Saudi Arabia - 2016
Table 2 – Telecom revenue and investment statistics – 2016
Table 3 – Telephone network statistics – 2016
Table 4 – Broadband statistics – 2016
Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2016
Table 6 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 – Saudi Arabia – GDP and inflation – 2011 - 2016
Table 8 – Saudi Arabia – mobile, fixed-line and total telecoms revenue – 2001 - 2015
Table 9 – Fixed telephone and mobile subscriber penetration – 2006 – Q3 2016
Table 10 – STC Group revenue and profit – 2005 – 2016
Table 11 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2004
Table 12 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 - 2016
Table 13 – International Internet bandwidth – 2010 - 2015
Table 14 – IT market revenue – 2006 - 2015
Table 15 – Fixed internet users and user penetration – 2005 - 2016
Table 16 – Fixed broadband subscriptions – technologies and penetration – 2010 – Q3 2016
Table 17 – Saudi Arabia – household PC penetration – 2002 - 2015
Table 18 - Facebook Stats for Saudi Arabia versus Middle East as at August 2016
Table 19 - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
Table 20 - Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2007 – 2016
Table 21 – Major mobile operators’ subscribers and market shares – 2005 - 2015
Table 22 – Saudi Arabia – prepaid subscribers – 2002 -Q3 2016
Table 23 – Zain prepaid subscribers – 2008 - 2015
Table 24 – Mobile broadband subscriptions – technologies and penetration – 2010 – Q3 2016
Table 25 – STC revenue and profit – 2015; 2016
Table 26 – Mobily revenue – 2006 – Q3 2016
Table 27 – Zain KSA subscribers and revenue – 2008 - 2015
Exhibit 1 – Wasel service project
Exhibit 2 – MBC/Al Arabiya
Exhibit 3 – Historical – Bravo
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