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Saudi must expand data, content services: report

Strong growth in mobile broadband penetration in the Kingdom

Saudi must expand data, content services: report
An informa telecoms and media report states that Saudi Arabia needs to expand its mobile data and content systems.

Due to the strong growth of mobile voice services in Saudi Arabia, the country now needs to investigate growth opportunities in data and content services, says a report issued by informa telecoms and media.

According to the report, there has already been strong growth in mobile broadband and No 2 operator Mobily has 1.2 million mobile broadband subscribers. This is led by the young population who want to have on-the-go access to their social networking applications such as Facebook.

Mobile broadband growth is strong because of a lack of other broadband options in the country, with a total broadband penetration of between 12% and 14%, according to the report.

Mobily is expecting mobile broadband to account for 37% of its revenues by 2014, indicating the massive potential for growth in the sector.

Ashraf Gameel, director of marketing at Zain Saudi Arabia also said the company plans to expand its data, content and mobile broadband applications and that it is planning to draw 20% to 30% of its revenue from non-voice services in the future, according to informa.

The report states that due to the lack of entertainment options in Saudi Arabia, the young population is desperate for entertainment.

Mohammed Al-Sayed, head of non-voice services at Zain Saudi Arabia says the company has expanded their content services aimed at particular segments such as sports fans. According to the report, Zain has also developed a customer relationship management system that can be accessed via a PC and mobile handset and which can be extended to a TV settop box as well as pay-per-day mobile broadband.

Al-Sayed has argues that Saudi telcoms operators should be working together to improve local content and develop a common national content platform from which each operator can select the content that it wants to offer to customers according to informa.

There are already come local content players working in Saudi Arabia such as Ikbis for photo sharing, D1G and Watweet for social networking and Rotana for music and video, but Barig Siral, CEO of venture-capital fund ICT says there is room in the market for many more players and for the telecoms companies to take a more active role in developing content.

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