RIYADH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) outlined a number of technological advancements by the information and communications technology sector that took place over the course of 2019.
Crucial to the CITC's efforts are building and strengthening infrastructure while improving the quality of services provided, in order to adopt new technology and enhance user experience. Included in this is the increase of fifth-generation (5G) towers to reach more than 5,200 base towers in more than 30 cities around the Kingdom. 5G technologies will also contribute to providing digital infrastructure for several innovative services in addition to enabling the Fourth Industrial Revolution and adopting emerging and modern technologies.
Achievements during 2019 include the Kingdom's rise to second of G20 countries for total number of allocated frequency bands for providing telecommunication services, according to statistics on spectrum liberalization and G20 frequency bands allocation.
Rising the number of allocated spectrum has contributed to faster internet speeds and increased service delivery rates. By end of November 2019, Mobile download speeds in the Kingdom reached 51.8 MB/S, and as a result the Kingdom ranked 14th in Speedtest Global index, an improvement of eight places on the previous month.
In the field of digital transformation and modern technologies, CITC launched a cloud computing portal in 2019 in an effort to localize cloud computing services. Additionally, directives will stimulate the adoption of solutions and related technologies in the Kingdom to raise the level of performance, productivity and flexibility for government agencies and the private sector, while enabling the knowledge economy, reducing operating costs, facilitating data access and ensuring continued service alongside a high level of data protection.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations, ranked the Kingdom among the most mature countries in regulating the ICT sector and described the sector as one of the most developed. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia jumped 16 places with respect to ICT adoption in the World Economic Forum's "Global Competitiveness Index 2019".
As part of its mandate, CITC also handles the regulatory and oversight functions for the postal sector. The commission issued two regulatory documents that would improve the services provided in this vital sector while promoting its investments. These documents outline the rights of postal users and the controls and guidelines for providing a delivery service via electronic platforms.
In a report issued by the ITU about the Kingdom's ICT sector, they commended the infrastructure of the kingdom by highlighting how high-quality ICT services were provided to more than 2.5 million hajj visitors in 2019, ensuring that the needs of pilgrims and the rest of the population were met.
There was a record-high consumption of data and communications during the pilgrimage season in 2019, reaching more than 38,900 TB (38.9 petabytes) of data – an increase of 27% over the pilgrimage season of 2018. The average download speed in Makkah reached 44 Mbps – an increase of 67% from 2018, while in Al-Medinah download speed was 48.14 Mbps, which equaled a rise of 54% compared to the previous pilgrimage year