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Saudi Arabia home to 50 million mobile subscribers

The total amount of mobile subscriptions in the Kingdom reached 50m at the end of Q1 of 2014

Published: Updated:

The total number of mobile subscriptions in the Kingdom reached around 50 million at the end of Q1 of 2014, with a penetration rate of 165.1%, according to the quarterly electronic newsletter issued by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).

In the 19th edition of the newsletter released on Monday, CITC said the number of Internet users increased by the end of the first quarter of 2014 to reach about 18.1 million, with a penetration rate of more than 59%. Prepaid subscriptions constitute the majority (over 86.5%) of all mobile subscriptions, the newsletter said.

The continued decrease in the number of subscriptions since 2012 seen here is due to the adoption of CITC’s decision linking the sale and activation of pre-paid SIM cards with the national ID systems. As companies deactivated a large number of unidentified SIM cards, this impacted the total number of subscriptions and penetration rate, the CITC report said.

Fixed telephone lines reached 4.8 million at the end of Q1 2014, of which around 3.4 million or 71% were residential lines. This represents a household teledensity of around 64.8%, while the population teledensity is about 15.6%, taking into consideration the growth in the number of households.

Population teledensity is calculated by dividing the total number of fixed lines by the total population, and household teledensity is calculated by dividing the total number of residential fixed lines by the total number of households.

The total number of mobile broadband subscriptions continue to increase, and reached around 20 million at the end of Q1 2014, representing a population penetration rate of 66%. The mobile broadband market also continues to gain momentum in the Kingdom. The key reasons for this growth include strong competition, the healthy expansion in the use of smart phones, and the offering of various data packages by mobile operators suitable for different user segments. These have led to a dramatic rise in the number of users in recent years, and an increase in the data traffic over these devices, supported by the wide coverage of the 3G and 4G networks.

Fixed broadband subscriptions including DSL, fixed wireless (WiMax), FTTx and other fixed lines have grown to around 3.12 million subscriptions at the end of Q1 2014. The fixed broadband penetration rate stands at about 46.3% of households.