Saudi telecom regulator awards licenses to 2 new virtual network operators

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Saudi Telecom
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Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator has granted licenses to two new Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), raising the total number of mobile telecom companies in the kingdom to seven.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said in a statement that the new companies are Integrated Telecom Mobile Company (ITC Mobile) and Future Networks Communications.

Companies with MVNO licenses can provide users with services such as voice calls, internet, SMS, voicemail, media services, and more without owning any towers or frequencies. The provision of these services is dependent on MVNOs renting or purchasing capacity from infrastructure providers and then offering services to subscribers.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s only mobile telecommunications operators were STC, Mobily, and Zain. Virgin and Etihad Jawraa were both offered MVNO licenses by CITC in 2014.

The Saudi telecommunications sector contributed 5.3 percent to the country’s GDP in 2020, with a market of $18.4 billion, up 4 percent from the previous year. In 2020, capital investments of telecom service providers invested $4.69 billion, and mobile telecom service penetration exceeded 135 percent.

The issuance of MVNO licenses to two new market entrants underscores Saudi Arabia’s ICT sector’s competitiveness, which offers local and foreign investors attractive benefits such as robust infrastructure, high user penetration, and a well-defined strategy.

The recent transformation of the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) from a telecom regulator to a digital regulator has set the way for the Kingdom’s next generation of ICT regulation.

It is seen that the telecom service providers are an important factor in transforming the Kingdom into a digital society, a key component of Vision 2030, which can contribute to innovation in telecom, mobile data, and internet services.

Related: Saudi Arabia awarded highest ICT regulatory classification by ITU