Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has announced plans to allow new mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) to compete to provide services in the kingdom.
The CITC says that the licensing of new MVNOs aims to further enhance the business environment, promote competition in the market, and foster the adoption of international best practices across the industry.
There is also a job creation angle, important in a country with a very large population of young people. As the CITC statement says: “The licensing of new MVNOs will enhance innovation in the services provision and make more options available to telecommunications and information technology end users in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the licenses are expected to generate new jobs in this vital sector of the Kingdom’s economy”.
This move follows a public consultation whose findings were released earlier this year, as well as market studies.
The commission is inviting interested parties to submit applications according to the competition’s requirements by 3pm on the tenth of March.
At present, the regulatory document published to support the announcement says, mobile telecommunications services in the kingdom are offered by Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC), Etihad Etisalat Company (Mobily) and Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) Saudi Arabia (Zain). There are already some MVNO services in the kingdom. They are offered currently by Virgin Mobile Saudi consortium (Virgin) and Etihad Jawraa for Telecom and Information Technology Company (Lebara). How many new entrants the CITC is willing to license is not clear.