Market Definition, Designation and Dominance (MDDD) Report for the Saudi ICT regulator (CITC)

Project executed on behalf of the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC)

Project Objective

The main goal of this project was to carry out a market analysis of the ICT sector in Saudi Arabia, define the relevant electronic communications markets, identify those subject of ex-ante regulation, determine Dominant Service Providers and introduce a new ex ante regulation in Saudi Arabia.

Figure 1: Overview of the methodology applied for the market analysis

Project Description

Our work first examined in depth the existing legal rules in the Kingdom, evolutions and expected trends in the Saudi and international markets; practical experience gained with the previous regime; and best-practice insights from other markets and jurisdictions.

In the initial phase of our work, we also prepared a benchmark study covering 11 countries (UAE, Oman, Jordan, Turkey, Mexico, UK, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Australia and Canada), chosen to be broadly representative of different aspects of regulatory approach of relevance to the project.

In parallel, we prepared a discussion paper covering major drivers for change in the industry including: digital transformation; demand for data and connectivity; globalization; and technological developments for fixed and mobile networks and services.

Drawing conclusions from the previous deliverables and our careful analysis of the available market data for the KSA markets, and in close cooperation with CITC’s teams, Axon prepared a draft MDDD Report, for public consultation, in December 2019. The Report analyzed a total of 13 fixed, mobile and leased lines markets.

Given the central role of ex ante regulation in the telecoms regulatory landscape, the preparation of this report involved numerous consultations and exchanges of views with several other key units with the CITC.

After analyzing, in a Public Consultation Analysis Report, the comments received from the three key service providers, and following various presentations and exchanges of views with the CITC’s top management, we prepared a final version of the MDDD Report and draft decisions for the CITC, which were subsequently adopted.

As a complement to the Final MDDD Report, we also prepared separate notes to the CITC on a number of critical regulatory issues, associated with current and future ex ante regulation.

Key Takeaways

This Project has been beneficial to the Kingdom’s telecommunications landscape in more than one way:

  • It has largely aligned the current ex ante regime with international trends, e.g., by strengthening focus on the ex ante regulation of wholesale markets and through updated ex ante remedies;
  • Its critical work phase was completed quickly, despite the worldwide disruptions brought through the Covid-19 pandemic. Several online meetings were held smoothly and efficiently between the two Project Teams – at a time when this was considered a relative novelty for high-level meetings;
  • The project has given rise to a lively debate with other CITC units, thus raising awareness of the central importance of ex ante regulation within CITC’s overall regulatory role and workload. It has also occasioned a discussion of, and advice on, associated regulatory issues that were not strictly related to the project’s technical scope.

The final report is available here