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In the era of digital transformation, stc group has emerged as a driving force, propelling the ICT sector forward with its robust digital infrastructure, cloud computing, and advancements in cybersecurity, IoT, AI, digital payments, and digital entertainment. Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of stc group, sheds light on the core competencies that have fueled the group’s success and the strategies employed to achieve significant milestones.

DARE Strategy as a Digital Transformation Catalyst

At the heart of success lies the group’s DARE strategy, which stands for Digitalizing stc, Accelerating core asset performance, Reinventing customer experience at world-class standards, and Expanding scale and scope. This strategic framework has been instrumental in streamlining our digital transformation process, enabling innovation, enhancing customer experiences, and extending network coverage beyond conventional limits. “Through the implementation of DARE, we have not only focused on digitalizing our operations but also reinvented customer experiences, setting world-class standards,” explains Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj.

“Our commitment to the DARE strategy has positioned stc group as the go-to provider for all digital needs in the modern era, keeping us ahead of technological advancements locally and globally.” The group has expanded our scale and scope by embracing digital transformation in every aspect of its operations, ensuring a comprehensive approach towards digital services.

5G Network Expansion: Charting Future Road Maps

Staying at the forefront of connectivity, stc group has achieved a remarkable 90% service coverage in major cities with its 5G network. This extensive expansion, covering over 75 cities and governorates in the Kingdom, is a result of our continuous efforts in implementing pioneering 5G technologies. “Our strategic initiative aims to modernize infrastructure, providing greater robustness and sophistication to significantly enhance user experiences. The 5G network, being the foundation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, IoT, AI, and machine learning, aligns with our commitment to fostering the digital economy, stimulating local content, and generating high-quality employment opportunities,” notes Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj.

“Our investments will aid in expanding and developing the network, fostering the digital economy, stimulating local content, generating high-quality employment opportunities, and digitally enhancing people's lives,” he adds.

Commitment Towards a Green Evolution

Recognizing the global importance of energy efficiency and sustainability, stc group has pledged to achieve complete decarbonization by 2050. The group’s "green evolution roadmap" outlines a detailed plan to reduce climate change impact and achieve Net-Zero carbon emissions. By adopting Science Based Targets and aligning with the Paris Agreement, it is committed to significant reductions in carbon emissions, embracing the Network Carbon Intensity Energy (NCIe) indicator to monitor and optimize energy usage. “By adopting the NCIe indicator, we can effectively measure our carbon footprint and reduce our environmental impact,” observes Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj.

Large-scale green initiatives, including solar energy facilities in the NEOM region, showcase our dedication to sustainability. The “Let’s Make Green” initiative is committed to planting one million trees by 2030. In 2022, the group's subsidiary, TAWAL, which manages the telecom towers, maintained ISO 14001:2015 certification for environmental management system, with a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and more than 30% cumulative emissions reduction since the company's establishment.

Pioneering the 5.5G Technology Advancement

As a forerunner in technological innovation, stc group is leading the implementation of 5.5G technology – the next frontier in connectivity. Through strategic partnerships and trials, including the first-ever 50G PON in the Middle East, stc is poised to lead the digital and telecommunications industry, providing advanced and high-speed connectivity solutions. “As part of our commitment to innovation, the group has entered a strategic partnership agreement with its associates to incorporate and test the 5.5G technology, such as 10Gbbps throughput, 50G PON, and other emerging technologies, says Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj. The group’s commitment to innovation is evident in achieving global firsts, such as the 4CC Test and significant technological advancements like the 50G PON trial. It has achieved groundbreaking feats like 10Gbps speed in 5G mmWave trials. Such connectivity speed is crucial for the adoption of technologies such as a AI, IoT, Edge computing to accelerate autonomous operations in various industry sectors, such as smart airport, smart ports, smart logistics and so on. 

Driving Innovation and Growth

With a mission to lead the digital evolution globally, stc group focuses on sustaining development efforts, achieving global leadership in ICT infrastructure, ensuring operational excellence, enabling and accelerating business innovation, and prioritizing green evolution and sustainability. By investing in AI infrastructure, stc aims to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer experiences through data-driven solutions. stc leverages big data analytics to provide actionable ideas and systems that facilitate reduction in energy consumption and implementation of green solutions, encouraging stakeholders, including customers and community individuals, towards better environmental responsibility. Moreover, stc group recently acquired a 9.9% stake in Telefonica Group for SAR 8.5 billion. Telefonica is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world with a presence in major markets like Spain, Germany, Britain, and Brazil. This investment aligns with the group’s ambitious expansion and sustainable growth strategy, which has resulted in numerous investments in ICT sector whether locally or internationally. stc Group achieved its highest-ever revenues for the 9 months reaching SAR 54.61 billion with an increase of 9.10%, and it distributes SAR 0.40 per share dividends for the 3rd quarter of 2023. “We recognize that without delivering the necessary products and services, our innovative and rapidly evolving ideas will remain just ideas. We aim to transform these ideas into dependable, life-improving, life-altering products and services. In pursuit of this, several key factors are pivotal to our strategy,” opines Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj.

Digital Transformation Beyond Boundaries

In addressing the digital requirements of global markets, stc group is well-positioned with advanced technology, innovation, and a strong network infrastructure. While challenges such as talent scarcity, evolving customer needs, and cybersecurity exist, proactive talent development initiatives, cutting-edge AI tools, and resilient cybersecurity measures are in place to navigate these challenges. The rapid growth of digital technology has significantly transformed the cybersecurity landscape, requiring a more thorough and resilient approach to safeguarding data.

The group has been globally recognized for its commitment to effectively combat fraud and maintain the highest standards in the field of communication security. The group is the proud recipient of a global compliance certificate for battling fraudulent activities in its networks, highlighting its role in reducing fraud and encouraging other telecom sectors to participate in these efforts. Moreover, the group’s subsidiary, “sirar by stc” was ranked first place in the Middle East and North Africa, and eleventh place globally among the top 250 providers of cybersecurity services in the “MSSP Alert” list. stc continues its efforts to adapt best practices to ensure secure and reliable communication services for customers, stakeholders, and the community.  “stc group's exceptional operational efficiency in the digital age sets a high standard for the telecommunications industry. The opportunities for transformation are vast, and stc group is committed to delivering progressive solutions that align with global digital development goals,” notes Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj.

Mega Projects Demonstrating Innovation

A testament to our commitment to innovation is the provision of one of the largest indoor coverage solutions to the King Abdulaziz Endowment in Makkah. Through deploying communication towers, antennas, small picocells, and advanced digital technologies, we ensure seamless and reliable communication experiences for all within the endowment, aligning with the aspirations of Saudi Vision 2030.

“This commitment highlights stc group's dedication to ensuring seamless and reliable communication experiences for all within the King Abdulaziz Endowment,” notes Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj.

In November, stc group signed a strategic partnership with Red Sea Global (RSG) to facilitate digital transformation and empower tourist destinations along the Red Sea coast by adopting state-of-the-art communication technologies and digital services, focusing on seamless and sustained connectivity services. Red Sea Global is the developer behind some of the largest tourism projects launched by the Kingdom as part of its ambitious Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the economy and create new investment opportunities.

“As stc group continues to be a driving force of digital transformation, our dedication to innovation, sustainability, and global leadership remains unwavering. We look forward to shaping the future of digital connectivity and empowerment on both regional and global levels,” reaffirms Haithem Mohammed Alfaraj.

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