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Saudi Arabia drives fibre penetration with open access network

Saudi Arabian regulator, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), has managed to get all telcos on the same page to join an open access network initiative.

While the theory of an open access network is one which can be appreciated by many, the realities of making such initiatives work are another matter. Not only does the appropriate frameworks have to be put in place, all the telcos have to agree. This is a significant hurdle, but it seems the CITC has negotiated it quite effectively.

“The adoption of an open access model will increase the use of our fibre-optic infrastructure through the development of commercial agreements that make it easier for subscribers to move from one provider to another,” said Mohammed Al Tamimi, Governor of the CITC.

The objectives of the agreement are to promote competition in the market, support investment by the telcos to improve fibre connections and also improve the quality of the service. Through this initiative, the CITC hopes to add more than 3 million households to the fibre networks, allowing subscribers to choose their broadband supplier independently from the infrastructure owner.

As it stands, Saudi Arabia can boast of FTTH penetration of 41.8%. There are of course several nations who can told this, but this is considerably more advanced than the vast majority. Across the Middle East region, the numbers do look very attractive, especially compared to Europe where the average for the 28 member states of the EU is 13.1% penetration.

While the Middle East region is not one which is often discussed in the global telecoms space, progress is looking very steady in Saudi Arabia. Alongside the ambitious plans to drive 3 million FTTH connections, the telco regulator also claims there are now 5,797 5G base across 30 cities, with three service providers offering 5G contracts.

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