Zain KSA: Championing 5G success with the right strategy and partner


Communications service providers across the world need help to monetize their 5G investments. In fact, many operators strive to find the right framework to monetize their network while delivering great value to customers. However, some telcos, like Saudi Arabia’s leading ICT and digital services provider Zain KSA, have achieved 5G success in record time, proving that with the right strategy and partners, it is possible to deliver customer delight and quickly monetize your investments.

In October 2019, Zain KSA became the first service provider in Saudi Arabia to launch commercial 5G services. The award-winning 5G roll-out has helped Zain achieve growth across multiple metrics, increasing its market share, Zain has seen constant 3 digits growth YoY of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) users since 2019.” The service provider recorded an increase in ARPU for wireless home customers compared to 4G to 5G.

At a recent interaction between Mr. Tiago Rocha da Silva, Chief Marketing Officer of Zain KSA and Dr. Philip Song, Chief Marketing Officer at Huawei Carrier BG, Rocha elaborated on the factors responsible for the spectacular success of Zain.

“Zain KSA’s 5G success first stems from the strong foundation that the Saudi leadership has built for the ICT sector, mainly the national digitalization roadmap. Zain KSA’s strategy which prioritizes investing in innovation has given us the first-mover advantage on a national and regional scale. In terms of outcome, Zain KSA’s growth was driven by several factors. The average 5G speed is more than 250 Mbps, about ten times higher than 4G. Differentiated 5G tariffs based on speed and bundled content with optional bundled devices, including PS5, VR glasses, Smart TV devices, tablets and more, helped us increase our market share. We grew our network to more than 5,000 towers covering 53 cities, and expanded vertically, tapping into adjacent markets including cloud computing, fintech and eSports, and launching several 5G-enabled innovative services, including a full-fledged B2B portfolio, cloud gaming platform and high-definition video streaming with highly reliable user experiences guaranteed to provide differentiated experiences for high-end users,” says Mr. Rocha da Silva.

Growing 5G ecosystem 

5G is being deployed and adopted at a faster pace than any technology before. “By the end of 2022, more than 240 5G networks have been launched worldwide, creating more than one billion 5G users. In the 5GtoB field, there are more than 10,000 private networks. 5G has achieved in three years what 4G took five years to accomplish,” says Dr. Philip Song of Huawei. 5G has helped increase the ARPU and revenue growth of the world’s top 20 operators by 10% and 6%, respectively.

Unlike previous technologies, 5G offers several monetization opportunities to the service providers, such as volume, speed. “It also allows service providers to contribute more to society by reducing carbon emissions due to its role in accelerating automation,” says Dr. Song.

Leveraging Opportunities in the 5G era 

As the 5G ecosystem continues to grow, Zain KSA has not limited itself to the commendable success it has so far achieved. Zain KSA is now gearing up to upgrade user experience and leverage new technologies, such as Metaverse and other immersive services like 3D and XR. Zain KSA is also looking to increase its FWA 2.0 business.

“High-end users in the Saudi market have great expectations from upcoming services. In addition, the potential of the home broadband market in Saudi Arabia is huge and the demand is strong. Therefore, the network experience needs to be continuously upgraded with a focus on hyper-customization to realize the commercial benefits in the home broadband market,” says Mr. Tiago Rocha da Silva of Zain KSA.

5G is already helping Zain KSA deliver differentiated and innovative offerings to high-end users, including 5G cloud gaming and video streaming, among others. “The immense 5G potential is essential for unlocking value in the gaming and video streaming market by offering unconventional experiences at scale. Zain cooperated with ecosystem partners to explore 5G cloud gaming and has achieved great success in enhancing lifestyles, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030. We launched GeForceNow (from NVIDIA) and PLAYHERA MENA, providing users with compelling digital entertainment experiences, “says Mr. Tiago Rocha da Silva.

In its mission to underpin the nationwide digital transformation and position itself as a preferred digital service provider, Zain KSA continues to enhance its capabilities to support its vertical expansion strategy and deliver customer-centric solutions across a range of adjacent markets. The network upgrades focus on ensuring higher speed and lower latency to enhance user experience and support immersive interactive services. This is also crucial to leverage opportunities in the enterprise segment, like massive IoT, among others.

“At the same time, we are focusing on our sustainability goals, aiming to become more energy-efficient, bringing down carbon emissions and cutting down operational expenditure,” says Mr. Rocha da Silva.

Preparing for 5.5G 

As the 5G deployments continue to grow in all geographies, the telcos have also started exploring 5.5G to improve network capabilities and unlocking new business frontiers and create a whole new range of business opportunities.

“Passive IoT will usher in the era of 100 billion connections. Passive IoT will be widely used in the fields of automated inventory of massive items in storage, temperature monitoring of power grid equipment, agricultural breeding, and positioning of personal items,” says Dr. Philip Song of Huawei.

Further, 5.5G networks will allow telcos to move from connectivity to sensing, which can be widely used in scenarios such as smart transportation, making urban infrastructure more efficient and intelligent.

Besides, 5.5G will enable telcos to provide a more immersive and interactive experience. Huawei believes that with continuous breakthroughs in terminal technologies and accelerated content prosperity, the number of online users of immersive interactive services in the 5.5G era will exceed one billion, a 100-fold increase.

5.5G will also enable industry digitalization. “With the increasing capabilities of 5G private networks, the application scenarios of 5G private networks will expand ten-fold and the value of a single connection in key application scenarios will increase ten times. Further, AI applications will enter a new era and create new opportunities for network connectivity in 5.5G era. Mobile 5.5G, F5.5G, and Net5.5G networks will provide real-time, reliable, and convenient connections for AI services on the cloud through technological innovation,” elaborated Dr. Philip Song.

Huawei is looking to work with global operators and partners to build simplified, green and intelligent ICT infrastructure to lay the foundation for 5.5G and enable them to leverage the opportunities offered by 5.5G.

In closing

The 5G networks offer an incredible opportunity for service providers to move beyond providing traditional voice and data services. However, they must focus on upgrading the network and customer experience to do so. As Zain KSA illustrates, they must also partner with a company, like Huawei, with proven expertise and experience in helping telcos benefit from the market opportunities.


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