KSA Free WiFi initiative has won this year’s ITU WSIS Prize in ‘’the role of governments and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development’’ category
The initiative beat 360 other international contestants to win first prize
KSA Free WiFi has won this year’s distinguished prize at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s World Summit OnThe Information Society (WSIS). The initiative launched in November 2020 in collaboration between the Communication and Information Technology Commission and service providers in KSA to install over 60,000 free WiFi hotspots in public places across Saudi Arabia.
WiFi hotspots are open to the public who can enjoy up to two hours of free internet roaming per day at specific locations. Hotspots are accessible in hospitals, shopping malls, city parks, and the two Holy Mosques, which are visited by millions of Muslim tourists every year.
This win is a testimony to CITC’s status as a world-class digital regulator, as digital transformation efforts are amped up across the Kingdom. CITC’s initiative was up against 360 other contestants across the globe who were competing for the prestigious WSIS award.
CITC has also been praised for aligning the initiative with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Particularly “Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being”; “Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”; “Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities”; and “Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production”.
Saudi Arabia's leading global WiFi status was recently amplified when it revealed on April 1st 2021 that it will be the first country in Europe, Africa and Middle East regions to make the full 6 GHz band available for WiFi use. By allocating the full 1,200 MHz of the radio spectrum band for WiFi, Saudi Arabia has today allocated 2,035 MHz of spectrum for WiFi — more than any country in the world.
Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest ICT market supported by a young, tech-savvy population, Saudi Arabia is a market of early technology adopters, with one of the highest social media penetrations in the world.
ITU’s internationally recognized WSIS Prizes contest was developed, in 2013, as a response to requests from WSIS stakeholders to create an effective mechanism to evaluate projects and activities that leverage the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to advance sustainable development. The “The role of governments and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development” category is the second of a total of 18 categories. The values promoted through the Free Wi-Fi Project are linked to those of equality, solidarity, and shared responsibility such that the provision of WiFi connectivity service is provided free of charge to all users to be respectful of the principles of net neutrality.