The Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has awarded licenses to two new mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), bringing the total number of mobile telecom companies in the Kingdom to seven.
The new companies to be given the licenses were the Integrated Telecom Mobile Co. and Future Networks Communications Co. after they won a competition announced by the CITC in February 2021. In 2014, CITC awarded the MVNO licenses to Virgin Mobile KSA and Etihad Jawraa.
Mohammed Al Tamimi, Governor of CITC, mentioned that licensing MVNOs comes in line with the commission’s plans to stimulate the investment environment for Saudi Arabia’s telecom sector. “At CITC, we aim to enhance the level of competitiveness in the sector, and improve user experience, by facilitating additional service providers,” he said. Al Tamimi also highlighted telecom service providers as important partners in transforming the Kingdom into a digital society, a key component of Vision 2030, who can contribute to innovation in telecom, mobile data, and internet services.
Companies with MVNO licenses are permitted to provide users with a range of services, including voice calls, internet, SMS, voicemail, and media services. They do not own any towers or frequencies, and to operate, they lease the infrastructure from existing providers. The provision of these services depends on the MVNOs renting or purchasing capacities from service providers with infrastructure and then providing services to subscribers.
The Saudi telecommunications sector is estimated to contribute 5.3% to the national GDP, with a market size that reached SAR 69bn ($18.4 billion) in 2020, growing by 4% from the previous year. Capital investments of telecom service providers amounted to SAR 17.6bn ($4.69bn) in 2020, and the mobile telecom services penetration reached 135.5%.