The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia considers access to voice telephony and internet services for all segments of society to be an essential element of its development strategy. The information and communications technologies sector (ICT) is a driving force for the economy as a whole, and contributor to the social, cultural, and national development.
While significant progress has been made in the development and liberalization of the ICT sector, more efforts should be done to bring the benefits of ICTs to all populations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. To achieve this, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology approved the Universal Access and Universal Service Policy on 17/06/2006. The Policy sets out the basis, principles and conditions relating to the provision of Universal Access and Universal Service in the Kingdom. The policy further directs the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) to issue a decision to establish the Universal Service Fund (USF).
Accordingly, Decision 165/1428 was issued on 04/06/2007. The Decision further specifies the legal and procedural nature of the USF and other necessary ancillary matters. The mechanism promote a fair bidding process among invited parties for the corresponding USF Project. The USF focus exclusively on financing new networks and/or services to provide Universal Access and Universal Services to geographic areas that are in the commercially unprofitable underserved zones. The financing of the USF projects have been funded by the government since the beginning of its operation.
The USF started to prepare its strategic and annual operating plans, including the programs and projects that will be implemented to provide voice and internet services. The formal operation of the USF was in 2010 when the first operating plan was approved. Subject to availability of funds, the USF continued annually in the preparation of operating plans, tendering and awarding projects.