Mobile Network Experience Report Saudi Arabia October 2021

Saudi Arabia

Mobile Network Experience Report
October 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

Mobily wins both Games Experience and Voice App Experience

In our previous report STC won the Games Experience award having displayed an impressive increase of 39.7%, which allowed the operator to rise above Mobily for the first time in this category. Now we have seen a comeback from the latter operator, as our users on Mobily saw a 10.3 points increase (23.7%) in their Games Experience score which pushed the operator once again to the top of this category, followed by STC in second place and Zain in third. Mobily also wins the Voice App Experience award after conceding the first place to STC in our previous two reports.

STC increases its lead in Download Speed Experience and Upload Speed Experience

STC wins both Download Speed Experience and Upload Speed Experience but also increased its winning margin on second-placed Mobily in the former measure of the mobile experience. In fact, STC’s lead on Mobily grew from 5.3 Mbps to 7 Mbps in Download Speed Experience. STC remains the only Saudi operator to exceed the 30 Mbps mark in download speeds and the 10 Mbps mark in upload speeds but this time it was Zain seeing the largest improvement in Download Speed Experience.

Zain wins the 4G Availability award while STC keeps a winning margin in 4G Coverage Experience

Since our last report, our Zain users saw their 4G Availability score increase by 1.7 percentage points to 88.9%, ahead of STC at 88% and Mobily at 86.7%. Zain was the only Saudi mobile operator to see its 4G Availability score increase since our previous report, when just 1.6 percentage points separated the three operators. On the other hand, STC maintains a significant lead of 1.6-1.7 points (on a 10 point scale) ahead of Zain and Mobily in 4G Coverage Experience, as the two operators placed second and third, respectively.

STC keeps hold of the Video Experience award

STC wins the Video Experience award for the fifth time in a row, after sharing the award with Mobily in our first Saudi Arabia report. STC scored 67.9 points in Video Experience, followed by Mobily at 66 points and Zain at 60.2 points. Both STC and Mobily earned a Very Good score (65-75), while Zain achieved a Good score (55-65).

Introduction

In our April Saudi Arabia report STC won all seven awards. This time we have seen a reshuffle of the winners in our awards table, as ​​Mobily wins Games Experience and Voice App Experience, while Zain wins the 4G Availability award. STC successfully defended the remaining four awards — Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience and 4G Coverage Experience.

In the second half of this year Mobily announced it did not reach an agreement to merge its tower infrastructure with Zain under a new entity, which was intended to provide wholesale infrastructure services to the two companies. This plan had previously been given in-principle approval by Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).

However, CITC has completed the first two phases of its domestic roaming initiative that was initially launched in the Asir region earlier this year, enabling mobile users to connect to any available network in the event of a lack of connection on their own provider’s network. The initiative is targeting the implementation of national roaming across the rest of the country by the end of 2021.

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 July 1, 2021 and ending on September 28, 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. We have also published a companion report — Saudi Arabia 5G Experience Report — which analyzes the experience of our 5G users when connected to 5G.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, Saudi Arabia
October 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
October 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
66.0
STC
67.9
Zain
60.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

National Analysis

Video Experience

STC wins our Video Experience award with a score of 67.9 points, and a lead of 1.9 points ahead of second-placed Mobily, up from 0.9 points in the previous report. This is the fifth time in a row that STC has won the Video Experience award outright, after sharing the win with Mobily in our first Saudi Arabia report. Both STC and Mobily scored in the Very Good (65-75) Video Experience category while Zain scored 60.2 points on our 100-point scale, which placed it in the Good category (55-65 points). However, looking at our 5G users, all three national operators placed in the Very Good (65-75) category for Video Experience – 5G Users, with STC scoring 74.1 points, while Mobily and Zain had statistically tied scores of 72.9 points and 73 points, respectively.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Mobily
66.0
STC
67.9
Zain
60.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Video Experience
Additional Metrics
in 0-100 points
Video Experience – 5G Users
72.9 (± 0.99) 74.1 (± 0.58) 73.0 (± 1.03)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Video Experience – 5G Users in 0-100 points
73 (± 0.99)
74 (± 0.58)
73 (± 1.03)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Opensignal’s Video Experience metric quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator's networks. To calculate video experience, we are directly measuring video streams from end-user devices and using this ITU-based approach to quantify the overall video experience for each operator on a scale from 0 to 100. The videos tested include a mixture of resolutions and are streamed directly from the world’s largest video content providers.

Games Experience

In the past six months we observed an impressive improvement on our users’ Games Experience on Mobily’s network, which allowed the operator to win back the award from STC. Mobily’s score increased from 43.2 points in our previous report to the current 53.5 points on a 100-point scale — a rise of 10.3 points. Conversely, we observed a decrease of 4.8 points on STC’s network after showing a 15 points improvement in our previous report — when STC claimed the Games Experience award from Mobily. In this report STC scored 48 points — 5.5 points behind Mobily — while Zain’s score remained statistically unchanged at 34.8 points.

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
Mobily
53.5
STC
48.0
Zain
34.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Games Experience
Additional Metrics
in 0-100 points
Games Experience – 5G Users
60.8 (± 1.34) 56.8 (± 1.23) 38.9 (± 0.73)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Games Experience – 5G Users in 0-100 points
61 (± 1.34)
57 (± 1.23)
39 (± 0.73)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Opensignal’s Games Experience 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 gaming experience is affected by mobile network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter.

Voice App Experience

Mobily wins the Voice App Experience award with a 1.8 point lead on STC, which had claimed the two previous awards. Both Mobily and STC placed in the Acceptable category (74-80), while Zain followed at a distance with a score of 67.6 points, which placed it into the Poor category (66-74).

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
Mobily
77.6
STC
75.8
Zain
67.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Voice App Experience
Additional Metrics
in 0-100 points
Voice App Experience – 5G Users
78.8 (± 0.55) 77.9 (± 0.49) 74.1 (± 0.86)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Voice App Experience – 5G Users in 0-100 points
79 (± 0.55)
78 (± 0.49)
74 (± 0.86)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Opensignal's Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience for over-the-top (OTT) voice services — mobile voice apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger etc. — using a model derived from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) approach for quantifying overall voice call quality and a series of calibrated technical parameters. This model characterizes the exact relationship between the technical measurements and perceived call quality. Voice App Experience for each operator is calculated on a scale from 0 to 100.

Download Speed Experience

STC kept hold of our Download Speed Experience award having scored 34.3 Mbps — a 2.1 Mbps increase compared to our last report. However, this time it was on Zain that we observed the largest improvement across our users’ average download speeds. The operator’s score clocked a 3.9 Mbps rise (24.4%), bringing it ever so close to the 20 Mbps mark in Download Speed Experience. Our users’ Download Speed Experience on Mobily’s network improved by a lesser degree in comparison — 0.4 Mbps — but still placed Mobily 7.4 Mbps ahead of Zain at 27.3 Mbps.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
Mobily
27.3
STC
34.3
Zain
19.8
0 8.75 17.5 26.25 35
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
Additional Metrics
in Mbps
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
118.1 (± 6.42) 165.6 (± 5.01) 160.3 (± 12.06)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users in Mbps
118 (± 6.42)
166 (± 5.01)
160 (± 12.06)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Looking at the overall download speeds as experienced by our 5G users, we saw statistically tied scores of 165.6 Mbps and 160.3 Mbps on STC and Zain’s networks, respectively. On the other hand, our 5G users on Mobily on average experienced 118.1 Mbps in download speeds. In our recent 5G Global Mobile Network Experience Awards report all three Saudi operators were recognized among the global operators showing the largest improvement in 5G download speeds compared to 4G, as well as Global Leaders for 5G Availability. This explains the impressive increase in Download Speed Experience for our 5G users compared to the overall scores that include all our users.

Upload Speed Experience

Notably, this time we observed improvements in the average upload speeds experienced by our users on all three national mobile operators, while in the previous report STC’s score remained statistically unchanged. STC increased its winning edge having scored 10.9 Mbps in Upload Speed Experience, up from 10.3 Mbps in our previous report. Mobily placed second with a score of 8.3 Mbps, which marked an improvement of 0.5 Mbps, while Zain followed at 7.4 Mbps showing a 0.4 Mbps rise compared to our previous report.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
Mobily
8.3
STC
10.9
Zain
7.4
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
Additional Metrics
in Mbps
Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users
13.9 (± 0.68) 18.7 (± 0.55) 16.6 (± 1.13)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users in Mbps
14 (± 0.68)
19 (± 0.55)
17 (± 1.13)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

When we focus on the overall upload speeds as experienced by our 5G users, STC, Zain and Mobily scored 18.7 Mbps, 16.6 Mbps and 13.9 Mbps, respectively. Zain was recognized in our 5G Global Mobile Network Experience Awards report for Upload Speed — Global 5G Impact, which measured the uplift in upload speeds experienced by our users on 5G compared to 4G.

4G Availability

Zain has retaken the 4G Availability award, after conceding it to STC in the previous three reports in a row. In this report, Zain scored 88.9% in 4G Availability, up from 87.2%, while both STC and Mobily saw their scores reduce slightly. In fact, STC’s 4G Availability decreased from 88.8% to 88%, while our Mobily users’ time connected to 4G changed from 87.8% to 86.7%. Once again, the relatively small gap between the three mobile operators’ scores — this time just 2.2 percentage points — means that the competition for this award is tight and small movements could lead to a different set of results next time.

4G Availability
% of time
Mobily
86.7
STC
88.0
Zain
88.9
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 relatively little change compared to our previous report as the largest improvement we observed was 0.2 points on a scale of 0-10. STC led in this award category with a score of 8.7 points, up from 8.6 points recorded in our previous report. Zain placed second with a score of 7.1 points, which was statistically unchanged compared to our last report. Our users on Mobily saw the largest improvement of 0.2 points as Mobily’s 4G Coverage Experience score increased from 6.8 points to 7 points.

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
7.0
STC
8.7
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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