Posted on: Tuesday 2 October, 2012 8:47
|Saudi Arabia mobile user base grows to 54.5m
Saudi Arabia had 54.5 million mobile phone users at the end of June, up from 53.7 million six months earlier.
The mobile penetration ratio was at 187.5 percent at the end of the first half of 2012, versus 188 percent at end-2011, according to the figures fro the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).
Of the total mobile users, over 86 percent used prepaid services. The number of fixed phone lines reached 4.66 million at the end of June, of which around 3.3 million were household subscribers. This was equal to a household teledensity of around 68.1 percent and population teledensity of about 16 percent.
The regulator said demand for fixed services was expected to grow due to the rollout of FTTx networks in cities. Fixed broadband subscribers were put at 2.21 million, while the number of mobile broadband subscribers reached 12.6 million at the end of June. The total number of Internet users is estimated at 14.7 million, or just over half the population. CITC said earlier that the mobile market grew by 1.1 percent q-o-q in Q112 to 54.3 milion subscribers by the end of March 2012.
This partly reversed a contraction of 4.3 percent q-o-q during Q411.
Business Monitor International (BMI) forecast that by the end of 2016, penetration in Saudi Arabia will reach 203 percent, unchanged from our previous update. This will equate to a predicted 63.2 million mobile subscribers. Growth in the country’s mobile market will mainly be sustained by the influx of seasonal visitors for religious and business purposes, such as pilgrims to the annual Haj.
BMI also expects STC’s investment in next generation fixed network infrastructure to be a key growth driver for fixed-line connections.
Despite growth in fixed-line subscriptions, the report sees fixed-line penetration to remain flat in the short term and then decline in the latter stages of the forecast period. By the end of 2016, BMI forecast a fixed-line subscriber base of 5.104 million, a penetration rate of 16.4 percent.
CITC data revealed around 14.2 million Internet users in Saudi Arabia at the end of March 2012, up from 13.9 million in 2011. These figures include subscriptions to dial-up technologies, as well as mobile broadband subscriptions through smartphones. According to the CITC, there were around 9.01 million broadband subscriptions in Saudi Arabia at the end of December 2011, a penetration of 32.1 percent.
By March 2012, the number of broadband subscriptions reached 9.71 million, reflecting growth of 7.8 percent during the first three months of 2012. We expect growth in the Internet sector to remain strong in 2012, driven by considerable investment into broadband infrastructure.
BMI forecast Internet and broadband penetration rates to reach 68.1 percent and 49 percent respectively at the end of December 2016. — SG/QJM