14.2 million Internet Users in the Kingdom
54.3 Million Subscriptions at the end of Q1 2012
The total number of mobile subscriptions grew to around 54.3 million at the end of Q1 2012, with a penetration rate of 188.5%. Pre-paid subscriptions constitute the majority (over 85%) of all mobile subscriptions. Despite the high growth rates achieved by the mobile sector in recent years, growth is expected to continue albeit at a slower pace.
Figure (1): Mobile Services Market Growth - Total Subscriptions (2001-Q1 2012)
Fixed telephone lines stood at 4.63 million at the end of Q1 2012, of which around 3.3 million or 71% were residential lines. This represents a household teledensity of around 68.4%, while the population teledensity is about 16%. It is clear from Figure (2) that the rate of demand for fixed line service has been relatively stable since 2004. The main reason is the rapid spread of mobile telecom services, their ease of subscription, and the gradual decrease in prices, which have led to a lower number of requests from consumers for fixed services. However, the demand for fixed services, especially in major cities, is expected to grow as a result of growing demand for broadband services, especially for fiber-optic network (FTTx) services.
dividing total fixed telephone lines by population, while household teledensity is calculated by dividing residential lines by number of households.
The estimated number of Internet users in the Kingdom is 14.2 million users at the end of Q1 2012. Internet penetration increased to 49.1%. It is expected that the demand for Internet services will increase significantly in the next few years due to the availability of optical networks (FTTx) at very high speeds, especially in large cities initially, growing Internet content, and the spread of handheld smart devices and applications.
Mobile Broadband Subscriptions Reached 11.9 million at the end of Q1 2012
The total subscriptions to mobile broadband reached 11.9 million at the end of Q1 2012, representing a population penetration rate of 41.4%. The mobile broadband market continues to gain momentum in the Kingdom. The key reasons for this growth are vigorous competition, a healthy expansion of smart phones, and offers of various data packages by mobile operators. Broadband has become easier to access via mobile devices such as smart phones. The mobile networks are also improving as 3.5G (HSPA) continues to be deployed and as wireless broadband technologies (4G) emerge over the next few years.
Fixed broadband subscriptions including DSL, fixed wireless (WiMAX), FTTx and other fixed lines have grown to around 2.16 million subscriptions at the end of Q1 2012. The fixed broadband penetration rate was about 36% of households.
Demand for broadband services has increased recently and the increase has been significant compared to previous years. This has been due to a greater need by society for broadband services, especially after broad government for high-tech projects which have created a good digital infrastructure, and now that many government services are provided through e-government transactions. Widespread use of the Internet in society has also helped this increase, with hundreds of thousands of programs being downloaded to smart devices, such as social networking, business applications, word processors, chat programs, security tools, games and more. Service providers are currently providing broadband services through fixed and mobile networks.
Tahfeez Selects 10 Local ICT SMEs
Tahfeez, a program launched by CITC in 2011 to address the shortage of ICT products and services supplied by local ICT SMEs, has received over 130 applications. The program offers consulting services and support in developing business plans and growth strategies. The participating SMEs qualified through a unified evaluation process and the ten most promising companies were selected to participate in the final stages of the program.
The coordination between Tahfeez and the participating SMEs began with preparing the consultancy work-plan and designing the Tahfeez executive training program. Four workshops for coaching executives were developed to meet the immediate needs of the SMEs and to support them in developing their growth strategies. The first two workshops covered a number of topics which included change and leadership, problem solving and analysis, business planning for ICT SMEs, strategies for business growth in the ICT sector, and understanding personality types in the work environment. The workshops were attended by a large number of senior-level executives representing local ICT SMEs.
The last two workshops were held during April and May 2012 and covered a number of topics including performance monitoring, the financing landscape for local SMEs, business plan implementation, and global trends in ICT.
To date, Tahfeez participants have completed the assessment of their businesses with direct contributions from the executive leadership of the SMEs and with the support of the Tahfeez team. At present, work is underway to develop the business plans and growth initiatives for the next 3 years, under the supervision of one of the leading management consulting firms in the world.
It is worth noting that Tahfeez is one of the national programs that CITC launched to encourage local ICT SMEs and to improve their business capabilities and level of maturity, with the aim to help establish national ICT champions – companies that will drive the growth of and employment in the ICT sector and reduce the dependence on imported high value-added services such as manufacturing, system integration and software development.
To learn more about Tahfeez, please visit tahfeez.sa.
KSA Wins Two UN World-class Awards in ICT and E-Services
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has won two world-class awards from the United Nations in the area of information and communications technology (ICT) and government e-services. The two prizes were awarded to the Ministry of Education for its significant Nour program and to the Human Resources Development Fund for its Hafiz program.
Such awards are presented by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, in order to encourage all countries worldwide to achieve more progress in transitioning to e-Government. ITU presented these awards for the first time and more than 170 agencies representing 50 countries applied for consideration.
CITC to Hold the Fourth Test for Amateur Radio Wireless Licenses
CITC announced that the fourth test for Amateur Radio wireless licenses for the year 1433H/2012G will be held on Wednesday 4 July 2012 at 9am in the main hall at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Riyadh. Applicants will be able to take the test in either Arabic or English.
For those who are interested in obtaining a license, more information on the required forms can be found on this link: http://www.citc.gov.sa/sf.
Two forms for the Amateur Radio license and a declaration should be filled out and attached with 2 photographs and a copy of the National Identity Card or Resident Card (Iqama). These documents should be delivered to the following address:
CITC Spectrum Affairs,
King AbdulAziz Telecom Complex,
Amateur radio service uses terrestrial wireless or satellite communications so that individuals interested in radio technology can use radio devices for the purpose of self-training, communication or technical research.
The licenses are divided into two categories: one allows amateurs to transmit and receive on all frequency bands allowed in the Kingdom; the other allows amateurs to receive on all frequency bands allowed for this service in the Kingdom as well as on the very high frequency (VHF) range.
For more information about Amateur Radio wireless licenses, please visit the website on the following link: http://www.citc.gov.sa/arl
CITC and KACST Complete the Raseel Pilot Project for Email with fully Arabic Addresses
Motivated by the same needs driving the efforts on behalf of Arabic domain names, CITC (represented by SaudiNIC) and KACST (represented by the Computer Research Institute) have successfully completed all the parts of Raseel pilot project (رسيل.السعودية).
The goal of this project was to develop a web-based Arabic email system with fully Arabic addresses that allows users to obtain Arabic email addresses and use them to communicate in the same way as regular email.
The project team successfully completed all the project technical requirements and launched an online web email system supporting fully Arabic addresses.
The project team also successfully developed a plug-in that can be used to correctly display and handle fully Arabic email addresses in the popular mail client MS Outlook – versions 2007 and 2010.
A focus group of selected participants from CITC, KACST and other national and international entities were invited to test the system and the plug-in and provide feedback on the system.
All the systems were developed using free/open source systems and were hosted locally, and all the work was done by CITC staff participating in the project.
CITC and KACST are planning to launch the next phase of the Raseel project that will include enhancements to the Raseel system and developing plug-in tools for some browsers to support Arabic email addresses for well-known web-based email services (e.g., Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo). Additionally, it will include developments for plug-in tools for other well-known email programs such as Thunderbird, Mac system software, and mobile devices.
Raseel is the first deliverable resulting from the agreement that was signed between CITC and KACST with the goal of undertaking several research and development projects exploring the challenges and possible solutions in adapting Arabic domains in practical tools and services after offering support for them.