‘Faster than Starlink:’ STC plans satellite internet for Saudi Arabia in 2023

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The Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC) is looking to roll out high-speed satellite internet in 2023 that will eventually cover all corners of the Kingdom, according to a company executive.

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STC has already trialed the technology in the planned megacity of NEOM, STC General Manager of Business Development Saad al-Rabiah told Al Arabiya English.

“We’re looking now into moving to a larger scale this year, 2023,” al-Rabiah said during the LEAP conference in Riyadh.

The satellites STC is planning to use “have higher speed than, for example, Starlink, the one with Elon Musk,” al-Rabiah explained.

Whereas Starlink is focused on providing internet access to less developed countries, STC’s plan aims to provide high-speed internet to all areas of the Kingdom, which already has internet access for around 90 percent of its population.

Improved internet access will “elevate [the] living experience” of people in rural areas, according to al-Rabiah, allowing them to communicate with friends and family, and access better levels of education and healthcare.

“It will also help governments to make sure that spending is more efficient in rural areas,” as people will be able to access certain services online.

Other initiatives that STC is working on include its smart cities program, which tracks traffic flow and uses artificial intelligence technology to give authorities the necessary information to re-route traffic.

Drone technology employed by STC is scouting out possible locations for mining minerals in the country’s vast desert.

STC’s AI-equipped cameras and remote controlled cranes are unloading ships in Dammam port. Automating this process cuts makes it more efficient and cuts down on any potential accidents, al-Rabiah said.

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