CommsMEA: Tell us about Dawiyat.
Dawiyat was established in 2009 however it received a licence only in 2016 as a carrier of carriers. Dawiyat is a 100% owned company by Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) that works to monetise the infrastructure of SEC. Dawiyat has in excess of 67000 kilometres of fibre in Saudi Arabia connecting border to border. The network is an extremely reliable.
Dawiyat has very strong ambitions to go to market to serve not only operators but also connect customers. Dawiyat has been honoured to join the Ministry of Telecommunications and information technology as part of the National Broadband initiative. The ministry gave Dawiyat to connect 745,000 homes by FTTH. Within three months, Dawiyat has already successfully tested and connected 81,000 homes in the cities of Jeddah, Riyadh, Madinah and Dammam. We are going very fast and we expect to achieve our targets in record time.
Dawiyat is also in the process of building significant fibre infrastructure which will serve as a major backbone to transport international traffic for the operators.
CommsMEA: Why did SES invest in fibre?
Fibre is traditionally used by electricity companies so that they can control the grid and the transmission sub-stations in fraction of a second. They can’t afford telecommunications latency that’s why they want to be in a position to control the elements of the grid in a very reliable form. When each sub-station has two or three fibres from different places, even if any of the fibre is cut, the others are there to serve. This is the main reason why all electricity companies, especially the ones that are going the smart grid route invested heavily in fibre optics.
SEC has been a pioneer in this endeavour; we are only matched by companies like Open Fibre in Italy, and Open Reach in UK. This is a fairly new model and has been used successfully only in a few places around the world. Other utility companies are looking up to the experience of companies like Open Fibre and Dawiyat in this endeavour. I think we are the first one in the Middle East to go that route.
CommsMEA: How is Dawiyat contributing to the Saudi Vision?
By connecting fibre to homes and improving the competitive position of Saudi Arabia, we are serving more customers and connecting high broadband to homes. Working with our operator partners, we would also be in a position to serve government needs, enterprises, and offer competitive, dependable and high speed internet and other services. We also contribute by giving the Kingdom alternative international connectivity if we are licensed to do so. Meanwhile, we keep investing in international fibre connectivity to be able, when licensed, to offer it to operators. In addition, we take assets that have been invested in by a national company and we produce more financial results from these assets and make these assets work for our shareholders.