Saudi mobile phone users take multiple connections

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By  Published  December 23, 2006

Over a third of cellular users in Saudi Arabia have more than one mobile connection and often select a different network operator for the second, according to a new report by the Arab Advisors Group. Research into the mobile phone use of residents in the Kingdom found that 39.6% of people had more than one mobile connection, with the need for separate business and personal connections being cited as the main reason for having multiple connections. Cost savings was another factor, the survey showed. The report was compiled by face-to-face interviews in various parts of the Kingdom. The leading mobile network operator in Saudi Arabia, which has a population of approximately 25 million, is Al Jawal, which has some 12 million subscribers. Mobily has around 4 million subscribers. The report’s release coincides with reports in local media that a third mobile operator is on the horizon. Egyptian telecommunications company Orascom is understood to be hoping to win the bid to become the third mobile operator in Saudi Arabia. The bid is expected to be launched soon. Jawad Abbassi, general manager of Arab Advisors Group, said the report indicates that actual penetration rates for mobile usage are lower than reported by mobile operators. “A good one-fifth of individual subscribers are subscribers of both operators, and over 39% have multiple mobile lines,” Abbassi said. “This trend seems to stem from the ongoing promotions in the Saudi Market that include free credit, no connection fees and lengthy validity periods for prepaid numbers.” By strict definition of the number of individuals using a mobile service, Saudi Arabia’s cellular penetration rate by Q3 2006 could be only around the 60% mark, rather than the 74.5% indicated by the reported subscriber numbers of the two operators, Abbassi said.

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