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Sun 25 Dec 2011 03:36 PM

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Saudi mobile-phone subscriptions rise to 56.1 million

Telecoms regulator says number of internet users in kingdom reached 13 million in Q3

Saudi mobile-phone subscriptions rise to 56.1 million
Saudi Arabias mobile penetration ranks third in the world at 188 percent

Mobile phone subscriptions in Saudi Arabia rose 15 percent to 56.1 million in the third quarter, the Communications and Information Technology Commission said in a quarterly statement posted on its website.

The telecommunications regulator said internet users had reached 13 million and fixed-line phone subscribers hit 4.5 million by the end of September.

Saudi Arabia's mobile penetration ranks third in the world at 188 percent, according to the International Telecommunication Union, with the Kingdom's conservative rules restricting mixing of the sexes and spurring demand for alternative ways to communicate.

Finnish handset maker Nokia says Saudi Arabia is in the top five countries globally for downloads, accounting for nearly one-in-four of these on its platforms in the Middle East and Africa.

Telecoms operator Zain Saudi jumped 5.5 percent, outperforming the index which traded flat.

The stock had earlier reached 6.4 percent.

Other telecoms stocks also edged higher in early trade. Saudi Telecom Co climbed 0.6 percent and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) rose 0.5 percent.

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