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Communications in Saudi Arabia

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Title: Communications in Saudi Arabia  
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Subject: Index of Saudi Arabia-related articles, Secure Computing
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Communications in Saudi Arabia

This article is about telecommunications in Saudi Arabia which includes fixed and cellular phones, internet as well as radio and television broadcasting and issues relating to the provision of these services.


Telephones - main lines in use: 4,633,158 (2011 - source: ITU)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 53,705,808 (2011 - source: ITU)
note: In 2004, the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) monopolization was broken by authorizing Etihad Etisalat/Mobily to compete in mobile communication, in June 2009 GO Telecom (Etihad Atheeb Telecom) or "جو" also entered the market.

Digital Radio Trunking- 100,000 (Unofficial):
In late 2005, bravO! Telecom was launched as the country's digital radio trunking operator under a B.O.T agreement with the incumbent operator STC, with an estimated 100,000 subscribers as of Nov'07.

Telephone system:
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay and coaxial and fiber-optic cable systems

International undersea cables: EIG, I-ME-WE, FEA, MENA, SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4, FALCON, SAS-1, SAS-2, Gulf Bridge International, TATA TGN-Gulf

Microwave radio relay to Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Yemen, and Sudan;

Coaxial cable to Kuwait and Jordan;

Satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (3 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean), 1 Arabsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region)


Radio broadcast stations: AM 43, FM 31, shortwave 2 (1998)

Radios: 6.25 million (1997)


Television broadcast stations: 117 (1997)

Televisions: 5.1 million (1997)


Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 22 (2005)

Internet Users: 13,000,000 (2012)[1]

Country code (Top level domain): .sa

Saudi Post

Broadband Internet access

An ADSL service in Saudi Arabia has become available since 2001. As part of its monopoly on all methods of communication in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Telecom Company is the only complete provider, though several ISPs are available, with the permission of STC.

STC is the only provider for telephone lines in Saudi Arabia. For this reason customers have to pay two fees, one to STC for activation of the ADSL service across the telephone line, and a second to an ISP to provide Internet service across the ADSL line. STC has been highly criticized for their service in providing ADSL access as customers had to wait many months to receive ADSL service on their phone lines. In 2006, STC had invested in increasing the size of their ADSL infrastructure and since then the wait times had improved, but many customers are still on waiting lists.

As of 2011, the maximum Internet speed available is currently 200 Mbit/s.

Speed Rate
128 kbit/s 99 S.A.R (26.39$)
256 kbit/s 149 S.A.R (39.73$)
512 kbit/s 199 S.A.R (53.06$)
1 Mbit/s 211 S.A.R (56.26$)
2 Mbit/s 222 S.A.R (59.19$)
4 Mbit/s 244 S.A.R (65.06$)
8 Mbit/s to 40 Mbit/s 296 S.A.R (78.93$) - 346 S.A.R (92.3$)
100 Mbit/s 499 S.A.R (133.06$)
200 Mbit/s 799 S.A.R (213.06$)

As of October 2006, the 20 Internet service providers in Saudi Arabia became connected through "Data service provider" -licensed companies, such as Saudi Telecom Company. The ISPs were previously connected through KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology), who was also responsible for DNS and filtering traffic. Since October 2006 the Communications and Information Technology Commission is responsible for DNS and filtering services.[2]

There are several reasons for the service being unpopular, in particular the unreasonably expensive prices and incompetent low-quality service. Perhaps this was proved when STC submitted a request to enter neighboring Egypt as a provider and was refused due to lack of experience, staff, equipments and such.

In late 2005 it was announced that a company by the name of Electronet would start providing broadband connections through electric lines by mid-2006. However as of early 2009 the service has not been implemented and the company's website has been idle for years. Some of the developed countries are having trouble implementing internet connections via power lines so it is highly unlikely this technology will ever appear in Saudi Arabia. Electronet is dissolved

There are huge public complaints about the Internet services in Saudi Arabia all of which falls on deaf ears since there is no reason or force pressuring the monopoly.

See also


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