Saudi Arabia has been upgraded to the fifth generation (5G) level by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for regulating all matters related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The statement was made during a virtual event hosted by the Global Symposium for Regulators.
The ITU’s ICT Regulatory Tracker evaluates the maturity of ICT regulatory frameworks in 193 countries. It comprises 50 parameters organized into four categories; regulatory authority, regulatory mandate, regulatory regime, and competition framework.
The tool tracks the country’s progress from first-generation regulation (G1), in which regulated public monopolies use a command-and-control approach, to fifth-generation regulation (G5), in which regulatory agencies collaborate with multiple stakeholders to develop a harmonized approach across sectors that reliant on ICT.
The Communications and Information Technology Commission’s (CITC) recent transformation from a telecom regulator to a digital regulator has paved the way for the next generation of ICT regulation in the Kingdom.
The achievement of the “gold standard” for policy and regulatory collaboration came two years ahead of the targeted date outlined in the Kingdom’s ICT Sector Strategy 2023, and only one year after being certified as a fourth-generation regulator.
Notable initiatives for collaborative regulation with all stakeholders in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s digital environment include Saudi Arabia’s Digital Economy Policy, the creation of the Digital Government Authority, the launch of pioneering regulatory sandbox projects, the Fixed Broadband Open Access initiative, the adoption of the WiFi-6 becoming the first country in the EMEA region and the launch of the “CITC Roadmap for Commercial and Innovative Use of Frequency Spectrum 2021-2023.
Mohammed Al Tamimi, the Governor of CITC, stated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ICT sector has developed regionally and globally, witnessing rapid transformations fueled by flexible, incentive-based, and innovative regulations, adding that in just five years, the internet speed has increased by 1,589 percent.