Mobile subscribers down 10% due to immigration crackdown

28 Jan 2014

Saudi Arabia’s mobile subscriber base has shrunk by around 10% in two years, in the wake of a widespread immigrant crackdown. CommsMEA reports that a number of stricter rules, including a reduction in quotas for pilgrims, and a more stringent pursuit of illegal workers, alongside tightened regulations on phone registration, have seen the number of mobile subscriptions in the Kingdom shrink to 51.0 million at the end of September 2013, down from 56.1 million reported in 3Q11.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in June 2013 the CITC increased the penalty for companies and shops illegally distributing mobile SIM cards to SAR25 million from the SAR5 million previously charged for the felony, with the notion that the fine could be doubled if there was a recurrence of the offence. CITC spokesman Sultan Al-Malik said that individuals purchasing such SIM cards would be guilty of identity theft. Under the royal decree, local municipalities will be given the authority to impose the penalties on companies and shops, while expatriates accused of violating the ban will be referred to the police, the Labour Office and the Passport Department.

Saudi Arabia, Communications and IT Commission (CITC)