.
.
.
.

Whatsapp to be blocked? Saudi Arabia refutes rumors

Consumers had previously expressed concern that several telecommunication companies were planning to block free services

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has refuted rumors to block social media applications including WhatsApp and Tango, the Arabic daily al-Watan reported on Monday.

Consumers had previously expressed concern that several telecommunication companies were planning to block free services on the pretext that they were causing them to lose out on profit.

“All Internet and telecom companies have to adhere to CITC rules and regulations. They do not have the license to control how consumers use Internet services. The CITC is the only authority to do so,” al-Watan reported a source as saying.
“The CITC protects the rights of consumers as well as the rights of service providers,” said the source.

Around 15% of smart phones users in Saudi Arabia already make free calls using various social networking apps. There has been a growth of internet and communications technologies (ICTs) in recent years. Access increased to 63.7 percent of the population by the end of 2014, up from 38 percent in 2009.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 19.6 million Internet users. Fixed broadband subscriptions stood at 43.2 percent of all households, with a majority using ADSL connections. Monthly expenditure on 4G broadband ranges from between $11 (SR55) for a 2GB allowance to $25 (SR95) for a 20GB allowance.

Mobile broadband penetration has jumped from 47.6 percent to 94.5 percent from 2013 to 2014, with some 29 million mobile broadband subscriptions. Standard mobile phone subscriptions have risen to 53 million, resulting in a penetration rate of 171.4 percent.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 24, 2015.