Since our last report in October 2019, Saudi Arabia’s operators have made healthy progress with their users observing improvements in their mobile experience across the vast majority of our metrics. STC was the exception to this rule, but only for Voice App Experience and Latency Experience. The operator has made great strides in both Download Speed Experience and Upload Speed Experience, with its users seeing increases of 7.2 Mbps (38.8%) and 2.4 Mbps (27.8%), respectively, allowing it to claim the Download Speed Experience award outright after having previously tied with Mobily for it.
All three operators’ 4G users spent 85% or more of their time on 4G connections — a significant improvement from the results seen in our last report, but still shy of the 90% plus figures we see in some markets.
Our awards table has undergone a considerable amount of reshuffling since our last report. In addition to becoming the new holder for the Download Speed Experience Award, STC also picked up our new 4G Coverage Experience award and snatched the 4G Availability award from the previous holder, Zain. However, not everything went STC’s way — Mobily pushed past it to claim the Voice App Experience award, and also picked up our new Games Experience award.
While STC was the only operator whose users reported an increase in Latency Experience (of 6ms), this measure of the mobile experience is still a weak spot across all three of the kingdom’s operators — given that our users observed latencies greater than 55ms (a startlingly high 82.6ms in the case of STC). Unsurprisingly, this had a knock-on effect on latency-sensitive applications and is reflected to some extent in the kingdom’s operators’ placing in either the Very Poor (STC and Zain) or Poor (Mobily) categories for our new one-of-a-kind Games Experience metric.
Opensignal’s Games Experience metric is a measure of how mobile users experience real-time multiplayer mobile gaming on an operator’s network. Measured on a scale of 0-100, it analyzes how the multiplayer mobile Games Experience is affected by mobile network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter to determine the impact on gameplay and the overall multiplayer Games Experience.
Looking to the future, the stage appears to be set for significant improvements in both Games Experience and many of our other measures of the mobile experience. Both STC and Zain have already launched 5G mobile services, while Mobily is currently providing a 5G fixed wireless access service
and is likely to follow its peers soon given the deals that it has recently signed with Ericsson and Nokia. 5G smartphones and their supporting networks can offer significantly faster download and upload speeds than their 4G counterparts – through allowing the use of higher frequency bands and more sophisticated techniques — as well as lower latencies.
In this report, we’ve analyzed the mobile network experience provided by Saudi Arabia’s three national operators — STC, Mobily and Zain — at the national level in the 90 days starting January, 1, 2020.