Mature Saudi market gearing up for 5G opportunity – R&M

Mature Saudi market gearing up for 5G opportunity – R&M

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, reports Research & Markets.

Mobile penetration is high to the extent that the market is considered heavily saturated, with a large number of mobile broadband users. The market features three major providers with universal licences - Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily and Zain KSA – alongside several smaller MVNOs. Competition is set to increase with the 2020 issue of two new MVNO licences.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has resulted in more workers, students and citizens being based at home and telecoms operators are expecting higher 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, with Zain offering 5G roaming between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

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.

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