Saudi Arabia
3.4 Saudi Arabia Telecommunications


Saudi Arabia’s telecom and ICT sectors continue to benefit from the range of programs aimed at diversifying the economy away from a dependence on oil and establishing a wider digital transformation over the next decade. An essential element of this has been the widening reach of 5G networks, which by mid-2021 reached about half of the population and the majority of cities.

The competitive mobile sector is serviced by Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily, and Zain KSA, as also four licensed Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have focussed investment on upgrading LTE infrastructure and further developing 5G. This in part is aimed at generating additional revenue from mobile data services, and also to their contribution to the Vision 2030 program. The ongoing pandemic has resulted in more people working and schooling from home during periods of restricted travel. This has stimulated growth in mobile data traffic, while the government has encouraged non-cash transactions and so helped develop the vast e-commerce market.

While Saudi Arabia’s fixed broadband penetration remains relatively low, there has been a concentration of fibre infrastructure and the Kingdom has developed one of the fastest services in the region.

Telephone Services

Is there an existing landline telephone network?


Does it allow international calls?


Number and Length of Downtime Periods (on average)

 No downtime periods

Mobile Phone Providers


Zain KSA


Approximate Percentage of National Coverage


Telecommunications Regulations

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is the Government body that oversees all information and communication technology in the Kingdom. It is responsible for planning and implementing the Government’s policies and strategies for the telecoms sector.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC)

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) is responsible for regulating the ICT and postal sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Telecommunications Act, issued by Royal Decree, provide the legal framework for organizing this sector. This Act involves a number of objectives such as: Providing advanced and adequate telecommunication services with affordable prices, creating an appropriate atmosphere to encourage fair competition, using frequencies effectively, localization of telecommunication technology and managing recent advancements, clarity and transparency in procedures, equality and neutrality, protection of the public interest as well as the interest of users and investors.

Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers (the “Council”) must sanction the granting of any licence under the Telecom Act.

Regulations on Usage and Import

Regulations in Place?

Regulating Authority




HF Radio



UHF/VHF/HF Radio: Handheld, Base and Mobile



UHF/VHF Repeaters









Individual Network Operator Licenses Required

CITC has structured the scope of services defined by the infrastructure elements they include. Different requirements and obligations may be placed on licensed entities wishing to offer services that fall within these different service categories.

  • Category A: Towers and masts
  • Category B: Small cells, distributed antenna systems and wireless access points
  • Category C: Dark fiber and ducts
  • Category D: Wholesale data connectivity

Any applicant to a license under the regulatory framework shall:

  • Provide CITC with a financial comfort letter from a Saudi bank or an international bank accredited by Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA) verifying the financial capabilities of the license applicant
  • Provide CITC with a five-year (5) business plan including detailed financial and operational plans (e.g., Profit & Loss statement, Balance sheet, Cash Flow statement, Capital structure)
  • Provide documentation that illustrates the relevant experience and expertise of the Applicant and its management team in particular
  • Provide CITC with a compliance declaration letter. As per the declaration in such letter the licensee shall:
    • Not engage in any practices that would result in the creation of a dominant player or in behaviour that would constitute as abuse of market power pursuant to the provisions outlined in the Telecom Act and its Bylaws
    • Offer its services in a non-discriminatory manner
    • Enter into good faith negotiations with facility-based service providers to reach commercial agreements. In case a commercial agreement cannot be reached CITC reserves the right to intervene
    • Not engage in or offer any exclusive agreements
    • Provide CITC with all final commercial agreements, CITC may reject submitted commercial agreements at its discretion. Commercial agreements must include a set of service level agreements (SLAs) as agreed between the licensee and the facility-based service provider
    • Provide CITC with financial and operational KPIs. CITC shall determine the KPIs to be provided.

  • Provide its services only to facility-based service providers holding an individual license awarded by CITC and shall not maintain any relationship to the end user.
  • Allow any concerned government authorities to use its’ facilities in case of an emergency or disaster as determined by the relevant authorities. The licensee shall be entitled to be compensated by those authorities for such use
  • Deploy and maintain the infrastructure facilities as per CITC accepted standards.
  • Use any type of network equipment, that meets the telecommunication standards recognized by CITC.
  • Ensure that its infrastructure is interoperable and interconnectable with the networks of other licensees under this regulatory framework and those of the facility-based service providers.
  • Bear the cost of any modifications in its infrastructure required to maintain such interoperability and interconnectivity.
  • Comply with the conditions of this regulatory framework, and all other laws and regulations under CITC provision. The CITC reserves the right to define new markets and determine dominance based on market structures that may develop as a result of this regulation. CITC may apply a set of remedies to regulate dominant players
  • Comply with all other relevant Saudi regulations and laws as issued by other government authorities (e.g., MOMRA, SAGIA).

Any licensee regulated under the regulatory framework and offering services under (category A) shall:

  • Notify CITC about its intend to offer services under Category A
  • Operate a minimum portfolio of at least 100 towers within two (2) years after notifying CITC about the intent to offer Category A services.
  • Provide CITC with rate cards for each commercial agreement. Rate cards will determine price ceilings for the sites included under the respective commercial agreement. The price ceiling will be the rate charged to the anchor tenant (first tenant to enter into a commercial agreement with the licensee on a given site)

For the full requirements and the process please check the following link.

Frequency Licenses Required

Broadband Satellite Service (BBSS) providers require access to scarce frequency spectrum resources. The Statutes permit CITC to limit the number of licenses to ensure the efficient use of limited spectrum. Applicants must determine the spectrum required from these scarce resources and prove the efficient use of this spectrum. CITC seeks applications from experienced and qualified Applicants who are capable of providing services to users successfully.

The following are the requirements that Applicant must meet:


Potential applicants are required to prove their ability to fund the expenditure needed to establish a BBSS service in Saudi Arabia. Hence, the applicant must submit documented evidence showing relevant ICT sector revenues of at least SAR 25 million per annum for the most recent year for which audited accounts are available.


CITC requires the applicant or a member of the applicant to submit evidence to demonstrate a minimum of 5 years' experience in the provision of ICT services.

Information and Documents Required

BBSS license applicants shall provide the following information and documents in Arabic with their application, and a translation in English may be submitted with it. If any discrepancies exist, the Arabic version shall prevail:

  • Description of the proposed service to be provided over the term of the license;
  • Expected service launch date.
  • Projected customer numbers and their expected geographical distribution
  • The Applicant shall also provide a concise description of the proposed approach to:
    • Customer care and after-sales support.
    • Service performance monitoring; and
    • Customer billing processes.
  • The Applicant shall complete the Frequency Assignment application form available from CITC’s website.
  • Applicants shall include sufficient information to demonstrate that they meet or exceed the requirements described in the regularity clauses
  • The proposed location in KSA of the proposed hub station(s) to be constructed shall also be identified by the Applicant.
  • The Applicant must hold a commercial agreement to provide satellite capacity that will be used to deliver satellite broadband services in the Kingdom. The Applicant must submit a copy of the preliminary agreement with the proposed satellite capacity provider, include details of the spectrum required to operate the licensed services, and the operational support required, and the term of the agreement, which must not be less than ten years
  • Applicants shall provide a letter agreeing to sign the special requirements form at CITC’s office which is required before the use and operation of the BBSS service.

Existing Humanitarian Telecoms Systems

There are no existing humanitarian telecoms systems set in the Kingdom however it is possible to be established under the rules and regulations sets by CITC as following:

In addition to the requirements and documents requested in Frequency Licenses Required section it is also requested to submit the following:

  • Certified copies of the original documents authorizing the signatory(ies)
  • Certified copies of the official identity documents (National ID or iqama) of the authorized signatory(ies) along with the original for verification.
  • The Applicant shall submit a certified copy of a valid Commercial Registration along with the original for verification in the name of the Applicant which includes a business activity related to Communications or Information Technology

After CITC has verified that the Applicant has provided all of the required information and the required frequencies are available, the Applicant shall then be requested to:

  • Pay the prescribed fees through the SADAD payment system. Details of the relevant invoice number can be obtained by contacting the CITC Financial Accounts Department
  • Pay the annual spectrum fees in accordance with the CITC process which is required prior to issuance of the license.
  • Submit the final agreement between the applicant and the satellite capacity provider.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

According to The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) report on internet speeds in the Kingdom (Meqyas) for Q3 2020 - In which the report compared the speeds of service providers in the Kingdom through download, upload and 5G speeds, ranks the best performing operators in each region - Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) came in the first place in terms of mobile internet average download speed, with 78.17 Mbps. Meanwhile, Etihad Etisalat Co. (Mobily) and Mobile Telecommunication Company Saudi Arabia (Zain KSA) came in the second and third places with 67.71 Mbps and 61.58 Mbps, respectively. Zain KSA ranked first in terms of fixed mobile internet average download speed, with 110.88 Mbps, followed by Integrated Telecom with 84.79 Mbps and Mobily with 76.68 Mbps.

Internet Service Providers

Are there ISPs available?


If yes, are they privately or government owned?


Dial-up only?


Approximate Rates (local currency and USD - $)


Download speed 200 Mbps

Upload Speed 50 Mbps


Fees : 345 SR per Month


 Unlimited for One Month (5 G) = 350 SR

Max Leasable ‘Dedicated’ Bandwidth

 Air Fiber 5G (around 10 times faster than 4G.), Free 5G Router capable to Connects up to 64 users, Monthly Subscription Fees: 402.5 SAR

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)

Three main companies handle mobile phones in Saudi Arabia. These are STC (Saudi Telecom Company), Zain, and Mobily.

For information on MNOs please visit the GSM Association website.


Number of Agent Outlets by Area

Network Strength by Area

Contracted for Humanitarian or Government Cash Transfer Programmes?

Services Offered


  • 266 Stores
  • 46,000 + retailers
  • 122+ Distribution Hub
  • 3,200 Agents

 Covering all the kingdom




239 Outlets and 3,900+ retailers

Covering all the kingdom




192+ outlets and 3900+ retailers

Covering all the kingdom




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