Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has issued what it calls its Three-year Outlook for Commercial and Innovative Use of the Spectrum in Saudi Arabia – and Wi-Fi supporters appear to be very happy with the contents.
CITC is planning to allocate or improve access to more than 23GHz of spectrum for a wide range of uses, of which 4GHz will be licensed, 6.2GHz will be license-exempt, and more than 13GHz will be lightly licensed.
The news appears to be good for mobile operators. CITC aims to allocate licensed spectrum in the 600MHz, 700MHz, 1500MHz, extended 2100MHz, 3800 – 4000MHz and 26GHz frequency bands for mobile use between 2021 and 2023.
However, the license-exempt offering in particular has been favourably received by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the body leading development of next-generation Wi-Fi services.
The WBA pointed out that Saudi Arabia is the first country in the Middle East, Europe, or Africa to designate all 1200MHz of the 6GHz band for unlicensed use. It added that the Kingdom now has more than 2GHz of spectrum for Wi-Fi operations – the most mid-band spectrum designated by any country globally.
The WBA said that it hopes that other regulators in the region will take note and make a similar commitment to advancing their own wireless broadband capabilities.
As part of the regulatory changes, the CITC said that additional spectrum will be managed through a combination of innovative approaches that will deliver greater sharing and flexible access, including spectrum trading to allow the market to change the ownership and, in some cases, the use of spectrum.
CITC pointed out that one of its aims is to achieve a balance between complementary technologies in cases where the market cannot deliver, to monitor spectrum utilization for improved decision-making, and to assist innovation by making a variety of bands available for new technologies – from trial licenses to shared and short-term access.