5G User Experience Report Saudi Arabia January 2021

Saudi Arabia

5G User Experience Report
January 2021

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Sam Fenwick Senior Analyst

Key findings

Zain wins all three of our awards for the 5G user experience in Saudi Arabia

While in our last mobile network experience report STC snapped up the lion’s share of our awards and Zain KSA (‘Zain’) did not win any, when we look at the experience using the latest 5G mobile technology we see a very different story. Zain has won all three of our 5G experience awards (5G Download Speed, 5G Availability and Download Speed Experience – 5G Users) outright and by impressive margins.

Zain impresses with a 5G Download Speed score in excess of 370 Mbps

When we look at the average speeds observed by our 5G users on 5G networks alone, our Zain users reported a 5G Download Speed of 374 Mbps which is 113.1 Mbps (43.3%) faster than the 260.9 Mbps observed by our users on second-placed STC’s 5G network.

Our 5G users on Zain’s network spent more than a quarter of their time connected to 5G

Zain has won our 5G Availability award with a truly impressive score of 28.4%. This means that our 5G users on its network spent 28.4% of their time connected to 5G. This is at least 7.1 percentage points higher than the amount of time that their counterparts on both STC and Mobily spent connected to 5G.

5G Users see the fastest overall download speed on Zain

Our users that have both a 5G-capable smartphone and access to a 5G tariff saw the fastest overall download speed on Zain’s network with an average speed of 268 Mbps, far ahead of the speeds seen by their counterparts on STC and Mobily, which clocked up 5G Download Speed scores of 145.9 Mbps and 88.2 Mbps, respectively. Zain has therefore won our Download Speed Experience – 5G Users award, which represents the complete average download speed experience of 5G users. It takes into account the average 3G and 4G download speeds that 5G users see, as well as their actual 5G Download Speed using a 5G connection, as well as the amount of time they are connected to each type of network. Together, these measurements reveal 5G users' overall download speed experience.

Introduction

In this report Opensignal quantifies the real-world 5G experience in Saudi Arabia for the first time. While STC dominated the awards table in our October mobile network experience report which looks at the overall experience of all Saudi mobile users, when it comes to 5G users alone Zain has the upper hand. The operator has won all three of our 5G mobile experience awards outright.

Zain’s impressively high 5G Availability score of 28.4% is not entirely a surprise, given that the operator announced back in July that it has expanded its 5G network to cover all of the Kingdom’s regions and subsequently said in early November that it has expanded its 5G footprint to cover 50 cities, enabled by more than 4,600 towers.

However, Zain cannot take its lead in 5G for granted — especially given recent news that STC has demonstrated 5G carrier aggregation across time division duplex (TDD) and frequency division duplex (FDD) bands under live network conditions in Riyadh. When this is rolled out across STC’s network the average 5G speeds seen by our STC users on compatible handsets will likely change significantly. Similarly, in December STC tested mmWave 5G using 26 GHz spectrum in Makkah City in conjunction with Nokia. Finally, back in October STC announced phase 2 of its 5G network rollout, which will involve 5G deployment in 71 cities.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, Saudi Arabia
January 2021, Saudi Arabia Report
5G Download Speed
5G Availability
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
January 2021, Saudi Arabia
5G Download Speed
5G Availability
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Download Speed
in Mbps
STC
260.9
Mobily
145.9
Zain
374.0
0 93.75 187.5 281.25 375
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Download Speed

Zain has won our 5G Download Speed award with a strikingly high score of 374 Mbps. The operator beat second-placed STC by a comfortable margin of 113.1 Mbps (43.3%). In addition, the average 5G speeds observed by our Zain users when connected to its 5G network were 2.6 times those seen by their Mobily counterparts. There was also a wide gap between the two runners-up, with our STC 5G users enjoying average 5G download speeds that were 115 Mbps (78.8%) faster than their peers on Mobily’s 5G network.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
STC
260.9
Mobily
145.9
Zain
374.0
0 93.75 187.5 281.25 375
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Opensignal's 5G results represent the end-to-end experience of users. We tested 5G Download Speed to the typical content delivery networks used to host popular mobile apps and websites.

5G Availability

Having very fast average 5G download speeds is only useful when users have a 5G connection. Opensignal's 5G Availability compares the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 5G — the higher the percentage, the more time users on a network are connected to 5G.

Zain was triumphant, winning this award with a score of 28.4% and our 5G users on its network spent at least 7.1 percentage points more of their time connected to 5G than their counterparts on STC and Mobily. That said, the gap between STC and Mobily was far smaller — with the two operators’ scores being statistically tied for this measure of the 5G mobile experience.

5G Availability
in %
STC
21.3
Mobily
18.6
Zain
28.4
0 7.5 15 22.5 30
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Zain’s strong 5G Availability score is a contributing factor to the Kingdom’s success at the international level for this measure of the mobile experience. In our recent look at the 5G experience across 15 leading 5G countries, Saudi Arabia was an impressive joint top for 5G Availability.

Download Speed Experience – 5G Users

When a user upgrades to a 5G-capable smartphone using an operator's 5G price plan, they will want to be able to experience the fastest 5G connection speed. Opensignal's 5G Download Speed award compares the part of their mobile experience where they are connected to 5G.

However, it is just as important to understand the overall speed experience that a 5G user enjoys because they spend some of their time connected to 3G or 4G and, for now, a minority of time connected to a 5G service. This is what our Download Speed Experience – 5G Users measures. It takes into account the average 3G and 4G Download Speed that 5G users see, as well as their average 5G Download Speed and time connected to each type of network to reveal the overall download speed experience.

Again, Zain was the outright winner with a score of 268 Mbps — 122.1 Mbps (83.7%) faster than second-placed STC’s score of 145.9 Mbps and three times faster than that of Mobily’s. This is an impressive achievement that demonstrates 5G success for Zain, at least at this early stage of 5G rollouts. While our users on its network observed the slowest overall speeds on its network back in our October mobile network experience report, both the speeds our 5G users observed when connected to Zain’s 5G network and the proportion of time that they spent connected to it more than countered this disadvantage. This highlights the extent to which a suitably ambitious 5G roll out can transform the mobile experience.

Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
in Mbps
STC
145.9
Mobily
88.2
Zain
268.0
0 67.5 135 202.5 270
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

More about Methodology

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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