The Internet in Saudi Arabia, from the Dale father to the fifth generation

I often write about the Internet and my relationship with it for 21 years, I was not one of the first generation to use the Internet through Bahrain, and I did not know the Internet until after it officially entered Saudi Arabia in the year 1998, and I can say that I have tried every Internet product that has been introduced to individuals since that date. To this day, let us return in memory:

Dale Up : With the voice of the famous modem and the memories of creating a separate line for the Internet because its use leaves the fixed phone busy all the time in an era when the mobile is not the official means of communication, we must remember the famous US Robotics modem with every mention of the Dial Up, this era also includes Easynet And Dial Back and others, should we talk about speed? If you did not come across this product, then you can imagine that we were opening some pages and then going out for hours waiting for them to finish downloading when we came back. The speeds did not exceed 40 kilobits, do you know what 40 means? It means that downloading a file size of 1 GB takes 83 hours, assuming the Internet is not interrupted at all, meaning approximately 4 days. I used the Dal Up between the years 1999-2003 approximately.

  • DSL
     : DSL technology appeared commercially in Saudi Arabia in 2000 (I need to confirm) and later, and its wide spread later due to the spread of the Internet as an entertainment and then the explosion of stock trading via the Internet, and the speeds at that time were revolutionary compared to using the Dal Up, I think It used to start with a minimum of 64 kilobits, then 128 and 256, and for those who use 512, this was referred to as Lebanon. Internet subscription was not cheap at that time, but DSL was a very important stage in establishing the generation of Saudis of the Internet, and the most famous device was the SpeedTouch modem. Alcatel / Alcatel.

Of course, speeds have evolved, so there are 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and even 50 megabytes, but DSL depends on the copper network, which is an old technology that was not stable most of the time, but for those who used the Dial-Up, DSL was the ultimate bliss. DSL continues to be present and still in some areas, but it can be said that it is a thing of the past.

  • 3G : The mobile Internet appeared early in Saudi Arabia, I remember my first experience before the iPhone came out in November 2006, that is, before the revolution of smart devices using the PCMCIA device on the laptop. At that time, the use of 3G increased with the beginning of the emergence of the iPhone and Android devices, and the fact that I cannot remember the available speeds in that period, portable connect devices became popular in that period, whether they were routers or dongles. The third generation master of the situation continued in Saudi Arabia until approximately 2012, when the fourth generation was intensively launched.
  • 4G : With the onset of the social networking boom in the year 2011, mobile usage increased, and internet consumption became happening all the time and was not linked to sitting in front of a computer at home or at work, and then the fourth generation appeared, which offered high speeds compared to what was available, and consumers also replaced DSL with home routers The 4G provided high speeds that were the beginning of the upward path of Internet use in general in Saudi Arabia on a large segment that did not use the Internet earlier, such as the elderly or those with lower incomes. Internet speeds on the fourth generation ranged from 40 megabytes to nearly 100 megabytes. In recent years, it has developed to reach 200 megabytes also in well-covered areas.

Historical pause:

In the period 2015-2016, Internet consumption in Saudi Arabia has escalated in a crazy and unbelievable way, the people are the most consuming of YouTube and Snapchat in the world compared to the number of residents, the total data that is passed on to mobile networks in Saudi Arabia is higher than what happens on Vodafone networks in 21 countries The situation was insane and unsustainable until the vision came in April 2016, but what is the relationship of the vision to the speed of the Internet?

The Saudi Vision 2030 revolves around 3 axes (a vibrant society – a prosperous economy – an ambitious homeland), from which multiple programs are branched out, most notably the National Transformation Program, which is important in this regard. The National Transformation Program has 8 dimensions, the seventh of which is “ Contribution to empowering the private sector ” that faces several challenges One of them is “ The inadequacy of the digital infrastructure to the aspirations of Vision 2030, ” which is why one of its strategic objectives is as follows:

  • Strategic Objective No.

One of its goals was: To increase the spread and speed of the Internet in all regions of the Kingdom by accelerating the spread of infrastructure and improving services .

The indicators for measuring the success of this goal are:

  • Raise the digital economy’s share of non-oil GDP from 2% in 2016 to 3% by 2020.
  • Ranking of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Source Network Readiness Index

Several initiatives stemmed from these initiatives related to Internet quality, namely:

  • Stimulating investment in the deployment of optical fiber networks in urban areas : The initiative aims to accelerate the deployment of optical fiber networks in urban areas at the level of the Kingdom by providing support to operators to deploy optical fiber networks.
  • Stimulating investment in the deployment of telecommunications and wireless broadband services in remote areas : The initiative aims to raise the coverage of telecommunications and broadband services in remote areas by providing support to operators to increase wireless broadband in remote areas

What resulted from these initiatives? New technologies and solutions, including:

  • Optical fiber : It started in the year 2009 almost with a very limited range in major cities and took internet speeds to fictional numbers up to 200 megabytes, and in 2017 launched the initiative to spread optical fiber networks targeting two million homes in Saudi Arabia by pumping nearly 15 billion riyals to invest in the infrastructure. Infrastructure, this initiative exceeded its target and reached 3.5 million homes, and then branched out of the “Open Access” initiative, which enables the consumer to subscribe with any company providing the service regardless of the company that owns the network that connects to the home to enhance consumer options. Fiber or optical fiber service is always the first choice for the high speeds it provides and for the permanent stability and stability of the service.
  • Fifth Generation : Although it started timidly in the year 2019, it has grown from its teeth in the current year. Large investments from mobile operators in Saudi Arabia have placed the Kingdom in the first place in the world for the speeds of this generation. My experience with him during the past few months has developed rapidly from speeds of up to 300 megabytes are now able to experience speeds up to 1.4 gigabytes, yes, in Saudi Arabia, I can experience what was a dream in the past. What we used to hear was available in South Korea or Finland became available here in Riyadh.

To concludeAs a contemporary user, all Internet services in Saudi Arabia, I think we are living in its golden age, it is true that some services did not reach all regions of the Kingdom, but I am optimistic that what the National Transformation Program started and accomplished will continue with the investments of telecom operators in Saudi Arabia towards providing digital infrastructure services to all cities and villages of the Kingdom This leap in the choices of the simple consumer is a basic building block towards building a digital economy that contributes to the domestic product, generates jobs and keeps money in the local economic cycle instead of exporting it to other economies, and what appeared to be a luxury in the past, the Corona pandemic has proven to be an utmost national necessity. The Kingdom digitally facilitated the issue of remote work and online shopping during the complete and partial ban and distance education at the present time, and before I finish this article, it is necessary to refer to the recent speech of His Highness, the Crown Prince on the digital sector, which confirms that the digital infrastructure will always be one Main Vision axesAnd its bet towardsRaise the share of digital economy of the GDP of non – oil “:

“ The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has achieved the first place in digital competitiveness at the level of the G20 countries in the past three years, and has jumped 40 places in the Digital Infrastructure Index for Communications and Information Technology. And we placed investments that exceeded 55 billion riyals in the digital infrastructure of the Kingdom, which resulted in an increase in the average speed of the “Internet” until we became the first country in the speeds of the fifth generation, and among the top ten countries in the world in the speeds of the mobile “Internet” after we were outside the list of the top 100 countries. . We tripled the number of homes connected to the optical fiber network from 1 million to 3.5 million. This unique global digital transformation enabled us to continue work for more than 94% of government agencies and the private sector during the pandemic, and to raise the rate of localization of jobs in the sector to 50% .

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