Mobile Network Experience Report Saudi Arabia April 2021

Saudi Arabia

Mobile Network Experience Report
April 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
Francesco Rizzato Principal Technical Analyst

Key findings

STC now wins all our seven awards

Just a year ago, STC won five of our mobile experience awards but the operator was notably behind Mobily in our two most recent experiential metrics — Games Experience and Voice App Experience. Six months ago, STC won all of our categories, save for Games Experience. Now STC has completed a full sweep of our awards table by securing our Games Experience award, as our users on STC’s network have seen their average experience improve by close to 40% compared to six months ago.

All operators improve in Video Experience

Our users on all three national mobile networks saw their average Video Experience improve in the last six months. We recorded the largest improvement of 2.2 points on STC, while Mobily and Zain improved by 2.1 points and 1.4 points, respectively. Both STC and Mobily remained in the Very Good (65-75 points) Video Experience category, while Zain scored in the Good category (55-65 points).

STC makes huge improvements in Games Experience

In the past six months, STC’s Games Experience score has risen by 39.7% compared to the previous report, and reached 52.3 points in our 100 point scale. STC has now a 9.6 points lead on Mobily — which also saw a significant improvement of 4.9 points. On the other hand, our users on Zain saw a 1-point dip in their average Games Experience score compared to our previous report.

Mobily showed the largest improvements in our speed metrics

Despite STC winning both our Download Speed Experience and Upload Speed Experience metrics, our users observed the largest improvements on Mobily’s network compared to our previous reports. In fact, while our users on STC observed an average improvement of 2.2 Mbps in download speed, their average upload speeds did not vary. On the other hand, the average increases we recorded on Mobily’s network were 2.3 Mbps and 0.9 Mbps for download speeds and upload speeds, respectively.

4G Availability nearing 90% for all three operators

All three operators are getting very close to the 90% mark in 4G Availability, as we observed scores in the 87.2%-88.8% range. In the last six months, our users on Zain, Mobily and STC saw their average 4G Availability increase by 1.7, 1.6 and 0.9 percentage points, respectively.

Introduction

In our latest look at the Saudi Arabia mobile market, STC carried out the impressive feat of winning all our seven mobile experience awards. This was possible because STC recorded huge improvements in our Games Experience award category — the only measure where STC lagged behind Mobily in our previous report. However, that does not mean that the competition is standing still. In fact, our Mobily users observed significant improvements across most measures of the mobile experience, and the difference in the two operators’ scores reduced in three metrics — Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and 4G Availability — and just 0.9 points separated the two in Video Experience. On the other hand, Zain is following behind STC and Mobily across all our award metrics, except for 4G Coverage Experience, where Zain placed second and ahead of Mobily.

However, some of the latest news suggests that things could likely change significantly in our future mobile experience reports. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has given in-principle approval to Mobily and Zain to merge their tower infrastructure under a new entity, which will provide wholesale infrastructure services to the two companies. Such a deal could very likely result in significant changes to our users’ mobile experience and possibly make it easier for Mobily and Zain to challenge STC for the mobile experience leadership position.

Moreover, CITC has announced its plans to release additional spectrum in the coming months and years, suggesting we have further reasons to expect that Saudi Arabia’s mobile experience will keep evolving in our next reports.

In this report, we have analyzed the mobile network experience on the three national mobile operators — Mobily, STC and Zain — at the national level in the 90 days starting January 1, 2021 and ending on March 31, 2021. We have used 5G measurements in addition to those from previous generations of mobile network technology when determining the overall scores for each metric.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, Saudi Arabia
April 2021, Saudi Arabia Report
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
Download Image
Mobile Experience Awards Winners
April 2021, Saudi Arabia
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
Download Image

Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Mobily
69.1
STC
70.1
Zain
61.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

Video Experience

STC won our Video Experience award scoring 70.1 points, and recording a lead of 0.9 points on second-placed Mobily. This shows that the competition for this award is still high, as both STC and Mobily scored closely in the Very Good (65-75) Video Experience category. On the other hand, Zain scored 61.8 points on our one hundred point scale, which placed it in the Good category (55-65 points).

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Mobily
69.1
STC
70.1
Zain
61.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Games Experience

In the past six months we observed huge improvements on our users’ Games Experience on STC’s network. STC’s score increased from 37.8 points in our previous report to the current 52.8 points on a one-hundred point scale — a rise of 15 points. We also observed a considerable improvement of 4.9 points on Mobily’s network, but that was far from enough for Mobily to maintain its lead on this award category. In fact, not only STC managed to jump ahead and win the Games Experience award, but it also secured a 9.6 points lead on Mobily. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement in Saudi Arabia’s Games Experience.

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
Mobily
43.2
STC
52.8
Zain
34.7
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Voice App Experience

STC won our Voice App Experience award for the second time in a row, and has seen its lead on second-placed Mobily increase from 1.2 points to 4.3 points. And while last time around all three mobile operators scored in the Poor category (66-74), STC has now distinguished itself by moving up into the Acceptable category (74-80) with its 77.6 points. That means that our users on STC were generally satisfied, although some might have experienced perceptible call quality impairments, such as clicking sounds or distortion.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
Mobily
73.3
STC
77.6
Zain
68.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience

STC kept hold of our Download Speed Experience award having scored 32.2 Mbps — a 2.2 Mbps increase compared to six months ago. However, this time it was on Mobily that we observed the largest improvement across our users’ average download speeds as the operator’s score clocked a 2.3 Mbps rise, which also meant that Mobily also passed the 25 Mbps mark in Download Speed Experience. Our users’s Download Speed Experience on Zain’s network was much slower by comparison, as Zain’s 15.9 Mbps score was half the average score we observed on STC, but also 40.7% slower than the average score we recorded on second-placed Mobily.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
Mobily
26.9
STC
32.2
Zain
15.9
0 8.75 17.5 26.25 35
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Upload Speed Experience

Notably, our STC users did not see any statistical variation to their average Upload Speed Experience over the last six months. However, Mobily and Zain’s upload speeds improvements were not enough for either of them to challenge STC for the leading position in this award category. In fact, Mobily and Zain saw their average Upload Speed Experience scores improve by 0.9 Mbps and 0.3 Mbps, respectively, but the two operators remained 2.5-3.2 Mbps behind STC.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
Mobily
7.9
STC
10.3
Zain
7.1
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Availability

STC won our 4G Availability award for the third time in a row, after claiming the award from Zain one year ago. However, STC’s lead on the other two operators has narrowed compared to six months ago. In fact, while our users’ 4G Availability on Mobily and Zain increased by 1.6-1.7 percentage points, STC’s score increased by 0.9 points. Now, just 1.6 percentage points separates the three mobile operators’ 4G Availability scores, which means competition for this award will be tight in the coming reports.

4G Availability
% of time
Mobily
87.8
STC
88.8
Zain
87.2
0 22.5 45 67.5 90
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Coverage Experience

Our users’ 4G Coverage Experience showed little difference compared to our previous report, as all three operators’ scores remained substantially unchanged. STC led in this award category with a score of 8.6 points (on a scale of 0-10), while Zain and Mobily followed behind with their respective scores of 7.1 points and 6.8 points. Interestingly, this was the only mobile experience category where we observed Zain in second place behind the winner STC. Opensignal's 4G Coverage Experience is a measure of how Opensignal's mobile subscribers experience 4G coverage on an operator's network. Measured on a scale of 0-10, it analyzes the locations where customers of a network operator received a 4G signal relative to the locations visited by Opensignal users of all network operators.

4G Coverage Experience
in 0-10 points
Mobily
6.8
STC
8.6
Zain
7.1
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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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