The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has awarded licences to two new mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), bringing the total number of mobile telecom companies inside the Kingdom to seven. The new companies to be given the licences, after winning a competition announced by CITC in February 2021, are “Integrated Telecom Mobile Company” (ITC Mobile) and “Future Networks Communications” Company, doubling the number of MVNOs inside the Kingdom. In 2014, CITC awarded the MVNO licences to Virgin Mobile KSA and Etihad Jawraa.
During the licensing ceremony, H.E. 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 licences can provide users with services, including voice calls, internet, SMS, voicemail, media services, and more, without owning any towers or frequencies. 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 granting of MVNO licenses to two new market entrants reflects the level of competitiveness in Saudi Arabia’s ICT sector, which enjoys attractive advantages for local and international investors, including robust infrastructure, high user penetration, and a clear strategy. The Saudi telecommunications sector is estimated to contribute 5.3% to the national GDP, with a market size that reached SAR 69 billion in 2020, growing by 4% from the previous year. Capital investments of telecom service providers amounted to SAR 17.6 billion in 2020, and the mobile telecom services penetration reached 135.5%.