Monday, 27 January 2020

Saudi Arabia to open its doors to foreign MVNOs

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 15 January 20

The Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) announced yesterday that it is inviting applications for new network licenses from foreign MVNOs

Saudia Arabia has long been regarded by the telecoms industry as something of a closed ecosystem.   The market is currently dominated by three Saudi Arabian operators, the Saudi Telecom Company, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), and Zain. As it stands…

Saudia Arabia has long been regarded by the telecoms industry as something of a closed ecosystem.
 
The market is currently dominated by three Saudi Arabian operators, the Saudi Telecom Company, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), and Zain. As it stands, foreign operators currently have little to no access to the country's 43.8 million mobile subscribers.
 
But this could all be about to change. Yesterday the CITC announced that they were going to grant licenses to foreign MVNOs for the first time. 
 
The government has also reportedly offered MVNO licenses to Virgin, Etihad Jawraa and Lebara.
 
“While new licenses will enhance prospects for investment in the sector, it is also a concrete demonstration of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to welcoming innovative companies to realise the Kingdom’s commercial opportunities,” explained Mohammed Al-Tamimi, governor of the CITC.  
 
This new international licensing strategy likely comes as part of the Saudi Arabian government’s initiative to boost its ICT sector by 50% in the next five years. If successful, this development would increase the sector’s contribution to GDP by $13.3 billion.
 
This announcement offers foreign MVNOs the chance to insert themselves into a booming market. Saudia Arabia’s population is predominantly young, with nearly 60% of the population under the age of 30. Couple this with a penchant for technology and the result is an ICT sector ready to expand almost exponentially in the new decade.
 
Just how much of this market MVNOs could carve out for themselves in the face of the current market domination remains to be seen.
 
 
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