Not app-ening? Internet-based calling apps won't be blocked in Saudi Arabia

Published November 24th, 2015 - 10:18 GMT

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) refuted rumors about blocking free communication apps like WhatsApp, Line, Tango etc., Arabic daily Al-Watan reported on Monday.

Consumers had expressed concern after rumors that some telecommunication companies were planning to block free services on the pretext that these were causing loss to them.

“All Internet and telecom companies have to adhere to CITC rules and regulations. They do not have the license to control how consumers use Internet services. The CITC is the only authority to do so,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

So far the CITC has not found any telecom company blocking free apps, the source said.

“The CITC protects the rights of consumers as well as the rights of service providers,” said the source.

Around 15% of smart phones users in the Kingdom already make free calls using various social networking apps on their smart phones.

Saudis have enjoyed a rapid growth of internet and communications technologies (ICTs) in recent years. Access increased to 63.7 percent of the population by the end of 2014, up from 38 percent in 2009.

Saudi Arabia is home to around 19.6 million Internet users.  Fixed broadband subscriptions stood at 43.2 percent of all households, with a majority using ADSL connections. Monthly expenditure on 4G broadband ranges from between SR55 (US$11) for a 2GB allowance to SR95 (US$25) for a 20GB allowance.

Mobile broadband penetration has jumped from 47.6 percent to 94.5 percent from 2013 to 2014, with some 29 million mobile broadband subscriptions. Standard mobile phone subscriptions have risen to 53 million, resulting in a penetration rate of 171.4 percent.

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