Communications in Saudi Arabia

Communications in Saudi Arabia

Telephones - main lines in use:3,317,500 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:21,500,000 (2007)
"note:"In 2004, the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) monopolization was broken by authorizing Etihad Etisalat/Mobily to compete in mobile communication.

Digital Radio Trunking- 100,000 (Unofficial):
In late 2005, bravO! Telecom was launched as the country's digital radio trunking operator under a B.O.T agreement with the incumbent operator STC, with an estimated 100,000 subscribers as of Nov'07.

Telephone system:modern system
"domestic:"extensive microwave radio relay and coaxial and fiber-optic cable systems
"international:"microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan; coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan; submarine cable to Djibouti, Egypt and Bahrain; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations:AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)

Radios:6.25 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:117 (1997)

Televisions:5.1 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):22 (2005)

Country code (Top level domain): .sa

Broadband Internet access

ADSL service in Saudi Arabia has become available since 2001. As part of its monopoly on all methods of communication in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Telecom Company is the only complete provider, though several ISPs are available, with the permission of STC.

STC is the only provider for telephone lines in Saudi Arabia. For this reason customers have to pay two fees, one to STC for activation of the ADSL service across the telephone line, and a second to an ISP to provide Internet service across the ADSL line. STC has been highly criticized for their service in providing ADSL access as customers had to wait many months to receive ADSL service on their phone lines. In 2006, STC had invested in increasing the size of their ADSL infrastructure and since then the wait times had improved, but many customers are still on waiting lists.

ADSL services in Saudi Arabia has been criticized for being slow, unreliable, and unreasonably expensive. As of January 2007, STC started providing 1024 kbit/s ADSL connections, but there are currently few ISPs that provide 1024 kbit/s Internet access. Still, Saudi Arabia is lagging behind its neighbors in terms of DSL access, as broadband costs are nearly double that of neighboring countries and the maximum Internet speed available is currently 10 Mbit/s/s.

Available ADSL speeds with typical monthly prices for ISP's:
* 256 kbit/s at a cost of SR80 (~US$21).
* 512 kbit/s at a cost of SR150 (~US$40).
* 1 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR200 (~US$54).
* 2 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR410 (~US$111).
* 4 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR580 (~US$157).
* 8 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR650 (~US$176).
* 10 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR700 (~US$190).

Available ADSL speeds with typical monthly fee's for STC:
* 256 kbit/s at a cost of SR100 (~US$27).
* 512 kbit/s at a cost of SR120 (~US$32).
* 1 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR150 (~US$40).
* 2 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR180 (~US$49).
* 4 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR210 (~US$57).
* 8 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR240 (~US$65).
* 10 Mbit/s/s at a cost of SR260 (~US$70). As of October [2006, the 20 Internet service providers in Saudi Arabia became connected through "Data service provider" -licensed companies, such as Saudi Telecom Company. The ISPs were previously connected through KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology), who was also responsible for DNS and filtering traffic. Since October 2006 the Communications and Information Technology Commission is responsible for DNS and filtering services. [cite press release
title = Communication and Information Technology Commission, Saudi Arabia, Annual Report 2005 | url = | publisher = Communication and Information Technology Commission | accessdate = 2007-01-22

There are several reasons for the service being unpopular, in particular the unreasonably expensive prices and incompetent low-quality service. Perhaps this was proved when STC submitted a request to enter neighboring Egypt as a provider and was refused due to lack of experience, staff, equipments and such.

Saudi citizens are hoping for the quick introduction of another provider to end STC's monopoly and start competition in the Internet provider market. This is believed to be hindered by CITC.

In late 2005 it was announced that a company by the name of electronet would start providing broadband connections through electric lines by mid 2006. However as of early 2008 the service has not been implemented.

Dial-up connection is the predominant method of Internet connectivity and is billed (to the phone bill) at 3 Saudi Riyals per hour, which equates to about 80 US Cents per hour which makes it about $20 per single day! and keep in mind we are talking dial-up here.

There are huge public complaints about the Internet services in Saudi Arabia all of which falls on deaf ears since there is no reason or force pressuring the monopoly.

ee also

*Saudi Telecom Company
*bravO! Telecom
*Bayanat Al Oula for Network Services
*Saudi Arabia
*Etihad Etisalat/Mobily


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