Saudi MNO Zain has launched its latest postpaid plan, called Xtra. It offers a monthly allowance of 1 TB of data along with a free Mi-Fi device and three free data SIMs, thereby allowing users to share the data allowance between a maximum of four devices at the same time. The plan also provides a monthly allowance of 2,400 all-net minutes, 300 international minutes, unlimited all-net SMS and 512 MB of roaming data. The monthly subscription fee for the plan is SAR 1,000.00 (US $261.77). Subscribers can also select a “diamond vanity number” (a phone number whose corresponding keypad letters spell out a word or name), said by the operator to be worth more than SAR 100,000.00 (US $26,177.50), free with the plan.
Saudi Arabia is ranked among the top countries in the world in terms of smartphone penetration, with a rate in excess of 70 percent. Combine the increasing adoption of smartphones with the demographics of the country (70 percent of the population is under 30), and it is not surprising that mobile data use is rising rapidly. One study found that the Twitter penetration among internet users in Saudi Arabia is the highest in the world (150 million tweets sent per month in 2013), and 73 percent of Saudi Twitter users access their accounts through mobile phones. The same study also reported that Saudis watched 90 million YouTube videos per day in 2013, an average of 7 per user per day. Zain itself reported that in 2013 its 4G network saw a 600 percent increase in data traffic and a 1,400 percent increase in active user rates compared to the same period in 2012.
The three Saudi operators have been offering 4G since 2011, Zain having been the first to launch commercial services. The operators have been structuring plans to derive more revenue from data use by targeting specific customer segments and needs. While this latest plan, Xtra, may not see mass adoption due to its price point, it may appeal to a small segment of high-end heavy users, to whom it does offer value. Zain’s next-tier plan offers 10 GB of data, 1,200 minutes and unlimited SMS for a monthly fee of SAR 400.00 (US $106.61), while rival Mobily offers a postpaid data-sharing plan with unlimited data (throttled at 10 GB per month), 3,000 on-net minutes and SMS and 1000 all-net minutes and SMS for SAR 399.00 (US $106.35). If Zain’s new plan is successful, it will be able to attract a limited yet potentially profitable pool of high-quality customers. Since it is unlikely that anybody will use 256 GB on each of four devices in a month, this large data allowance as well as the inclusion of the diamond vanity number are probably symbolic in nature, and confer a premier status on those who subscribe to this plan.
The above item appeared in a recent issue of The Tarifica Alert, a weekly resource that analyzes noteworthy developments in the telecoms industry from around the world. To access all of the latest articles and issues: http://www.tarifica.com/TarificaAlert.aspx