Saud Arabia’s Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) expects to award two mobile virtual network operator licenses for foreign operators interested in investing in the Saudi telecom market, a spokesperson at CITC told RCR Wireless News.

The spokesperson said that the two licenses will be officially awarded during the third quarter of the year.

CITC has released a Request for Application (RFA) to issue these new MVNO licenses.

The spokesperson also said that the licenses will enable MVNOs to provide mobile voice and data services, internet services as well as other related mobile services -including short message services, voicemail, email, mobile broadband, multi-media services and  IoT-VNO services.

The government agency said that the main aim of this decision is to help to achieve Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030’s objective to increase the dynamism of the information technology and communication sector (ICT) through the use of digital technologies.

CITC also said that licensing of MVNOs is also a key pillar in the five-year strategy established by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to accelerate the ICT sector’s growth by 50% and elevate its contribution to GDP by $13.3 billion.

Until recently, Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC), Mobily and Zain were the only mobile telecommunications operators in Saudi Arabia. The government said it had offered MVNOs licenses to Virgin, Etihad Jawraa and Lebara.

Mohammed Al-Tamimi, Governor of the CITC, said: “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 realize the Kingdom’s commercial opportunities. What distinguishes the ICT sector in the Kingdom is the breadth of new opportunities we offer where cutting-edge companies can allow their creativity to flourish in a rapidly expanding market.”

The government agency also said that operators awarded with a license will gain access to a market of more than 43.8 million mobile subscribers, with a mobile penetration rate of 129% of the total population.

Interested operators will have time until May 10, 2020 to submit applications.

The main operators currently operating in Saudi Arabia have already launched 5G services.

In November 2019, Zain announced the official launch of commercial 5G operations in Saudi Arabia.

Zain said that the first phase of its 5G rollout program stipulates the deployment of a network of 2,000 towers that cover an area of more than 20 cities across Saudi Arabia.

The carrier added that this initial deployment will be followed by a gradual expansion of the network to cover a total of 26 Saudi cities utilizing 2,600 towers by the end of 2019.

Zain had acquired 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band at a total value of SAR624 million (USD166 million).

Rival carrier Saudi Telecom Company (STC) had officially launched 5G services in Saudi Arabia in June. The company currently offers 5G services through 100MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.


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