stc group has announced the largest expansion of the 5G network in history. Investments will be made to develop and expand the existing network to cover more than 75 cities and governorates in Saudi Arabia. This project builds on the group’s success in delivering 5G network technologies to over 90% of its locations in major cities. The investments made by stc group will contribute to the development and expansion of the network, encouraging the digital economy, supporting local content, creating quality jobs, and enhancing people’s lives digitally. This is all in line with the group’s expansion and growth strategy.
The Kingdom has witnessed a digital transformation since 2006, which was a milestone for the people of Saudi Arabia. They could access the Internet through their mobile phones (before smartphones) using the third-generation network (3G) provided by the Saudi Telecom Company. This company is now known as the stc group, leading the way in enabling digital transformation. This journey started with the provision of Internet services through the first-generation networks (1G and 2G) in the late nineties. Homes, companies, and Internet cafes were about to the Internet for the first time in the history of the Kingdom. The introduction of 4G services in 2011 enabled users to live stream videos and gain more substantial access to a more robust world of applications, continuing the journey of Internet generations. This mega project is the outcome of these achievements and marks the success of this journey.
In 2018, stc group launched the 5G network, marking a significant milestone that initiated a historic transformation in communications and information technology in the Kingdom and the region. The MENA region’s development standards differed from the rest, making it the first commercial launch of the 5G network. This event began a new era, where physical and digital technology boundaries are blurred at blazing speeds with near-zero response time. Currently, stc group is working towards achieving digital transformation at every level, being the most prominent leader of the ICT sector in the region. The group is currently carrying out the most extensive expansion of their 5G network. This initiative aims to enhance the infrastructure, making it more robust and advanced than ever, thus promising to enrich the user experience. The 5G network is the beating heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and machine education, and a significant driver of national digital transformation. So, how will this historic expansion strengthen the 5G market, sustainability, and local content?
More than 35% of the population in 5 major cities in Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah, and Dammam, were provided with 5G service by stc group in 2019. The 5G service was extended to 75 cities nationwide the following year. The expansion of the 5G network continued and was further accelerated by stc group’s “Dare” strategy, which comprised four pillars: expanding in size and scope, renewing the experience, digitizing stc, and performing faster than before. In 2022, the proportion of mobile sites with 5G services surpassed 90% of locations in major cities, marking a significant milestone. Moreover, the second carrier in the 2300 MHz band was introduced in Riyadh and Jeddah to provide greater capacity and better coverage.
This year, the group set a new goal by embarking on its largest expansion. It invested heavily in upgrading its existing 5G network to an advanced 5G network across all its towers in the five main cities. This move aims to provide better services and opportunities for retail and business customers while solidifying stc group’s position as the leading digital enabler in the region.
stc group is committed to providing the latest digital solutions and technologies to keep up with the world’s desired digital development. It also recognizes the importance of improving energy efficiency, a critical aspect of strategic sustainability for all its operations and subsidiaries. Despite the dual challenge of expanding its business while consuming energy, stc group is dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on energy-efficient and renewable solutions for over 16,000 towers undergoing 5G expansion.
TAWAL, the tower-based subsidiary of stc group, achieved a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2022. This was made possible by advocating innovation and adopting eco-friendly practices. The reduction was measured cumulatively and amounted to around 30% compared to the baseline.
TAWAL now has over 16,000 towers, but the company has successfully decreased the number of diesel-powered plants from 1,718 to 1,045, showing its dedication to environmental preservation.
Keeping in mind the development of local content, stc group is expanding the 5G network, taking into account technical, financial, and environmental aspects, to transition from technology consumption to production. The 5G network is the foundation of future businesses based on integrated digital empowerment. Thus, one of the long-term goals of this expansion is to strengthen the digital economy of Saudi Arabia.
TAWAL has implemented various internal strategies to enhance the participation of native resources, surpassing 69% and receiving the Local Content Certificate from the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority.
The expansion of 5G is expected to have various effects, including the increase in digital projects that will benefit from the high speeds provided by this technology. InspireU, an accelerator affiliated with stc group, aims to provide advanced technical solutions for incubated projects, including the 5G network, which has contributed to a market value of investments and financial transactions for products of projects incubated by inspireU exceeding 12 billion SAR. Meanwhile, more than 600 thousand direct and indirect job opportunities have been generated by these startups. Additionally, inspireU’s entrepreneurial projects have benefited over 40 million users.
stc group aims to enhance the Saudi digital economy by upgrading digital empowerment and connectivity to the highest level. This will create more job opportunities for male and female citizens while supporting local content and enriching people’s lives digitally. The company is committed to sustainability standards for the environment, operations, and business models to contribute to achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. stc group strives to play a more significant role in digital transformation within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond, impacting the Middle East and the world.