Zain Saudi Arabia’s early move into 5G has transformed its market position in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from last to first.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most competitive telecom markets in the world. According to regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), mobile penetration in 2019 was 129%, with 93% of the population having access to the Internet compared with a global average of just 53%.As a result the Kingdom’s three major operators – STC, Mobily and Zain – are locked into a fiercely competitive battle.
Zain found itself in the unfortunate position of last place, with a market share of under 20%. In a bid to reverse its fortunes, the operator decided to change its strategy and sieze the initiative in the race for 5G by placing early bets on the technology. From 2018-19, Zain started to invest heavily in 5G, setting aggressive roll-out targets and collaborating with technology partners to meet these goals in record time.
Leadership in 5G Coverage Across the Kingdom
As a result, on launching 5G services commercially in October 2019, Zain boasted the widest 5G coverage in the country, offering services in 27 cities through nearly 2,600 towers . At that time, Zain’s 5G launch was the third largest globally, and the largest in the Middle East region. This bold strategy made a strong impact for Zain in the KSA telecom market and established Zain’s leadership in the 5G era.
Zain’s network has continued to expand since launching the service. By the end of 2020 it offers coverage in 41 cities and across all regions of the Kingdom with over 4,000 5G towers, more than any of its competitors. According to a Zain spokesperson, this is just the start, with the company continuing to expand its 5G network across new cities and implement upgrades in the cities already covered.
Zain’s investment in 5G is reaping further dividends. In addition to a market share increase, average revenue per customer has increased, as has its share of customer spending. Zain is also experiencing a boost in its 5G subscriber base and has established itself as the go-to brand for 5G in the Kingdom.
Response to Covid-19 Global Pandemic
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across Saudi society, Zain KSA strengthened its corporate and social responsibility by launching more than 10 initiatives to support the people in the wake of the "Covid-19” crisis. These initiatives were implemented to support various sectors such as the educational sector through distance learning, the private sector by facilitating business enterprises, accommodating clients of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as individuals, and supporting isolated infected people in hospitals or self-quarantined at home, in addition to awareness initiatives.
To support the educational sector for example, Zain KSA announced that it would provide internet data to 30,000 students in the Kingdom, as well as allowing free browsing on educational platforms. Further, to support remote working, Zain allowed business subscribers to allow to make unlimited calls to other business users.
Additionally, the telco granted its subscribers an additional 16 days to pay bills, as well as reducing the subscription costs for 5G Shabab Postpaid packages by 20%, offering a free-month for new subscribers to the Zain fibre service, doubling the data allowance for voice plans, and allowing the freezing of some services without paying any additional fees.
Recognition and Awards for Zain KSA 5G Achievement
Zain 5G services were launched under the banner of “A New World” and its strategy has created a whole new world for Zain. As it passes the first anniversary of its 5G launch, Zain has already received many accolades in a growing list of accomplishments including Best 5G User Growth, Best Cloud Provider and Best 5G Infrastructure Deployment. In the recently published CITC “Meqyas” report for Q3 2020, Zain took first place for having the largest 5G network coverage, fastest fixed Internet, and best online gaming experience. Meanwhile, Speedtest-Ookla recognised Zain as providing the fastest fixed network speed in the Kingdom.
Zain KSA 5G Service Innovation
On the services side, Zain has innovated by launching a number of new concepts into the market. Zain was the first operator in Saudi Arabia to recognise the benefits of bundling fixed wireless access (5G-BASED HOME BROADBAND) with mobility, launching the “Family Plan” in April 2020 in which 5G enabled mobile SIM cards are bundled with the 5G home broadband connection – thus catering to the communication needs of the entire family under a single bill.
Similarly, Zain identified the potential of content and services for 5G early, and subsequently entered into a partnership with OSN – granting its 5G users free access to OTT video services . Zain has pursued this strategy and is rapidly ramping up its ecosystem of partners to offer more services & experiences to its users.
This has been a result of the hard work of Zain over the past two years, during which the company has remained committed to its 5G journey – despite all the challenges presented in the market .
Further, Zain KSA has been active in national responsibility by putting its 5G network in the service of the Kingdom’s digital transformation roadmap, raising the bar of innovation for a more advanced future that possesses the latest technologies and services outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030.
Overall, Zain KSA has developed a very robust 5G network and is poised for further growth in the coming years. The Zain Saudi brand has become synonymous with 5G and for better performance in the region and the world.