Aramco Digital, the digital technology services subsidiary of state-owned Saudi oil and gas company Saudi Aramco, has obtained a specialist licence to use the 450 MHz spectrum band in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to stand-up private enterprise networks of various sorts to support Industry 4.0 activities, including those amassed in its developing ‘Nawat’ app store for enterprises. The 450 MHz band is not available to public telecoms operations.

It is unclear whether Saudi Aramco will sub-let local tranches of the 450 MHz band for standalone enterprise networks or attach and reinforce localised enterprise networks to a dedicated nationwide industrial 5G infrastructure. The government said the spectrum is geared to help industrial, energy, transportation, healthcare and other national sectors with their digital-change projects – as well as to enable “fourth-industrial-revolution applications and industrial IoT”.

The Communications, Space & Technology Commission (CST) in Saudi Arabia said Aramco Digital had “completed regulatory procedures” for the licence. It stated: “The licence aims to serve the industrial and business sectors through establishing a dedicated network, independent from mobile networks, operating on the latest global wireless technologies. This network will aim to cater to the specialised needs of various sectors.”

Writing on social media, Tareq Amin, chief executive at Aramco Digital, said: “[This] is not only a critical milestone for Aramco Digital but for the entire digital landscape in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I am convinced that now is the right moment to leverage the industrial spectrum as an enabler for a large-scale digitalization initiative across the kingdom… Aramco Digital will deploy a future-proof mission-critical mobile network incorporating state-of-the-art technologies.”

He talked about the “creation of a horizontal telco cloud… powered by Aramco Digital’s secure public cloud”, and an Aramco Digital curated shop window – called Nawat; working a la the app store model in consumer gadgetry – of enterprise applications and solutions, for sundry Industry 4.0 use cases. “Aramco Digital’s vision goes well beyond providing mere connectivity services; it focuses on providing impactful digitalization use-cases to companies across industries,” he said.

“Nawat allows enterprises to consume industrial digitalization use-cases on an as-a-service basis, and fosters the creation of a large and open ecosystem of enterprises, independent software vendors, application service providers and independent developers… Inspired by Vision 2030, Aramco Digital is committed to advancing the local economy and enabling small to large companies to thrive in the digital age.”

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