The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is located at the heart of the Middle East and is a hub in the submarine networks in Middle East region.
Telecom sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is supervised and regulated by three key government authorities.
As of 2020, there are now four major telecom operators in KSA, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Mobily (Etihad Etisalat), Zain KSA, Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom) and two MVNOs. In October 2016, the CITC announced an extension of licenses for telecom companies by 15 years and the issuance of unified licenses to four telecom service providers in KSA. For the extended period, telecom companies would have to pay 5% of their annual net profit as license fees. mobile operators Mobily and Zain KSA were granted unified licenses in February 2017, allowing them to offer a full range of telecommunications services, including mobile and fixed line, to compete with existing uniified licensee STC , while Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom) was kept to offer only fixed-line services. KSA opened up the telecom market to MVNOs in 2013. Currently, there are two MVNOs operating in KSA – Virgin Mobile and Jawraa Lebara – with STC and Mobily as host mobile network operators (MNOs) respectively.
Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) was established in 2004 by a consortium led by Etisalat, the UAE based telecom conglomerate. Zain KSA was founded in 2008, as a subsidiary of Kuwait based Zain Group (Mobile Telecommunications Company). Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom), established in 2008, is the second fixed-line operator in KSA. Saudi Telecom Company (STC), founded in 1998, is the incumbent telecom operator in KSA.
Additionally, Integrated Telecom Company (ITC), founded in 2005 and part of Al Mawarid Group, is a leading Saudi based telecom operators. ITC owns DSP, ISP and VSAT licenses as well as an independent infrastructure that includes two international landing stations in Al-Khobar and Jeddah connecting the FALCON cable system. ITC partners with Mobily to establish and operate the Saudi Fiber Optic Network (SNFN) connecting all cities of Saudi Arabia with fiber optic network of more than 17,000 km.
There are now 13 in-service submarine cable systems connecting Saudi Arabia, namely:
There are also new submarine/terrestrial cable systems under construction or planning, including but not limited to:
As most of the existing submarine cables are landed at Jeddah due to easy onward connectivity from Asia to Egypt & Europe. There are advantages in having additional cables landed in new pieces of land elsewhere. As an example, SE-ME-WE-5 cable landed in Yanbu. Yanbu was selected as a SE-ME-WE-5 landing site for ease of connections to capital city Riyadh and Jeddah, as well as the fact that the seabed off its shore is very favorable for submerging the marine cable and could offer the necessary physical diversity.
stc operates cable landing stations in Jeddah, Yanbu, Al Khobar, Duba and Haql.
stc Jeddah cable landing station includes AL-Salamah Building, Alrowis Building and Al-Mujamah Building, for the following cables:
stc Yanbu Cable Landing Station:
stc Al Kohbar Cable Landing Station:
stc Duba Cable Landing Station:
stc Haql Cable Landing Station:
In addtion, stc operates Mena Gateway (MG1) data center in Jeddah and the resident IX (JEDIX), as a “Data and connectivity hub” in the Middle East region. JEDIX, powered by and partnered with London Internet Exchange (LINX), is an open IX to connect all carriers, cloud and content providers in MG1 (MENA Gateway). stc Al Khobar Cable Landing Station is linked to MG1 data center in Jeddah, which is linked to all submarine cable systems, and GCC borders points via stc's extensive, diverse and redundant terrestrial network.
Mobily operates cable landing stations in Jeddah and Al Khobar.
Mobily Jeddash Cable Landing Station houses the following cables:
Mobily Al Khobar Cable Landing Station houses TGN-Gulf.
Integrated Telecom Company (ITC) owns and operates two cable landing stations in Jeddah and Al Khobar for the FALCON cable system.
Contributed by Abdul Ravoof