DLA Piper Intelligence

Telecommunications
Laws of the World

Overview of legal landscape

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has a tightly regulated telecommunications market.

Broadly speaking, it is a requirement that a locally incorporated company must hold a licence to provide public telecommunications services.

Currently, there are two fixed and three mobile service providers in the KSA, and these service providers have been issued with Individual Licences. There are a number of other licensees that provide specialised services under class licences, including ISPs that operate a network.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Overview
Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has a tightly regulated telecommunications market.

Broadly speaking, it is a requirement that a locally incorporated company must hold a licence to provide public telecommunications services.

Currently, there are two fixed and three mobile service providers in the KSA, and these service providers have been issued with Individual Licences. There are a number of other licensees that provide specialised services under class licences, including ISPs that operate a network.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Laws and regulations

Key telecoms statutes include:

The Telecommunications Act (the 'Act')

Issued under the Council of Ministers Resolution No. (74), dated 05/03/1422H (corresponding to 27/05/2001), and it was approved pursuant to the Royal Decree No. (M/12), dated 12/03/1422H (corresponding to 03/06/2001).

The Act came into force in June 2001, and provides a legal foundation for developing the telecommunications sector whilst also including a number of objectives pursuant to which the telecommunications sector is to be regulated. 

The CITC Ordinance ('Ordinance')

Issued pursuant to the Council of Ministers Resolution No. (74), dated 05/03/1422H (corresponding to 27/05/2001), and it was amended pursuant to the Council of Ministers Resolution No. (133), dated 21/05/1424H (corresponding to 21/07/2003).

The Ordinance came into force in June 2001, and is the instrument by which the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) was established. It covers, amongst other things, the CITC's responsibilities, board composition and membership, governance and sources of finance. 

The Telecommunications Bylaws ('Bylaws')

Under the provisions of Article 40 of the Act, the Bylaws were issued by the Ministerial Resolution No. (11), dated 17/05/1423H (corresponding to 27/07/2002).

The Bylaws came into force in July 2002. They supplement the Act and include provisions by which the telecommunications sector is regulated. 

Regulatory instruments

The CITC has also issued a number of more specific technical and regulatory instruments, including, for example, quality of service regulations, numbering, equipment approval and licensing instruments.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Regulatory bodies

The CITC

The CITC regulates the telecommunications sector in the KSA.

The CITC's contact details and address in Riyadh are:

Address: P.O Box 75606 - Riyadh 11588 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Phone: 0114618000

Int'l. phone: 00966114618000

Fax: 0114618120

Int'l. Fax: 00966114618120

Website: http://www.citc.gov.sa/

The Ordinance lists a number of activities which the CITC is required to undertake, including, amongst other things, the issuing of licences in accordance with the Act, Bylaws and Ordinance, and implementation of approved polices, plans and programs for the development of the telecommunications sector.

The Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephone

The Ministry is required by the Act to undertake a number of activities, including, amongst other things, the making of general policies, plans and development programs for the telecommunications sector, and representing the KSA in domestic, regional and international bodies in the telecommunications sector. Appeals against the decisions of the CITC, in the first instance, can be made to the Minister of Post, Telegraph and Telephone.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Regulated activities

The Act defines Telecommunications Services as the conveying and routing of signals in whole or in parts over the public telecommunications networks, including TV and Radio Transmission and Internet Services.

The By Laws state that a licence is required in order to provide a telecommunications service to the public, or to operate a telecommunications network used to provide a telecommunications service to the public.

Private internal telecommunications networks with limited capacity for the interconnection between the parts of one facility (such as hospitals, residential compounds and hotels) do not require a licence. Such networks cannot be interconnected with a public telecommunications network without CITC approval.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Registration / licensing

The CITC has currently limited the number of fixed, mobile and MVNO licences available.

However, other types of class licences are available. These include ISP, VSAT, GMPCS, Call Centres, On-board Aircraft services, IVL, e-wallets - the full list can be found on CITC's website.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Establishment

The Act provides that fixed and mobile telecommunications services shall only be provided through joint stock that places their stock for public subscription. The licence for these services is subject to Council of Ministers' approval.

The CITC appears to require that all licensees are registered entities within Saudi Arabia.

Certain licences, such as the IVL and NOC licence, require that the licensee maintains equipment within the Kingdom.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Interconnection/roaming

The Act and Bylaws contain provisions relating to interconnection agreements, and the CITC has also issued dedicated interconnection regulations.  

'Dominant' service providers must generally submit copies of interconnection agreements to the CITC, and must provide to the CITC, at such time or times as the CITC prescribes, a report on its interconnection arrangements, which must satisfy certain requirements. The CITC may require non-compliant interconnection agreements to be amended.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Consumer protection

The CITC approved terms and conditions for fixed, mobile and data services can be found on CITC's website

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Taxes and fees

Initial and annual licence fees for various licences can be found here.

Generally, telecoms licence fees are paid in favour of the General Treasury. Other fees may be payable to various Saudi Government bodies, depending upon what form of entity is established to hold the licence.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Enforcement

The Act and the Bylaws do not specify fines or penalties for breaches of specific provisions. Violations of the Act and Bylaws are to be referred by the CITC to a Violations Committee (nominated by the CITC Governor and approved by its board), which will assess violations on a case by case basis and determine an appropriate penalty that is proportionate to the gravity of the violation and the circumstances. The Violations Committee is required to issue reasoned decisions in writing.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Contacts
Paul Allen
Paul Allen
Partner, Head of Intellectual Property and Technology
T +971 4 438 6100
Eamon Holley
Eamon Holley
Legal Director
T +971 4 438 6100
Last modified 5 Oct 2016