The countries covered in this report include: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
Researcher:- Paul Kwon
Current publication date:- December 2011 (10th Edition)
Broadband competition emerges from an unlikely source
The disparity in economic development across the Middle East is reflected in the region’s Internet and broadband penetration rates, although overall penetration rates for the region remain low. Increasing competition is improving affordability while a generally young population is a driver for growth.
The state of broadband development is most evident in the small, oil-rich and developed countries of the Gulf, where take up is driven by some of the highest incomes per capita in the world. Examples include Qatar, Bahrain and UAE.
Competition is predominantly infrastructure based due to the lack of effective regulatory regimes for wholesale network access. Despite this, progress is evident with demand for wholesale products such as naked DSL in the UAE indicating potential for future growth.
ADSL remains the dominant broadband platform given the reach of incumbent networks. However a number of countries have embarked on ambitious fibre or hybrid fibre network rollouts or indicated a willingness to do so, including Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey.
Although much was made of WiMAX network deployments in previous years, the emerging mobile broadband products from the region’s competitive mobile markets offer the most likely source of significant competition moving forward.
Underpinning the focus on mobile broadband is the need by mobile operators to develop new revenue growth opportunities as mobile voice markets reach maturity. In many instances the downlink speeds advertised by the mobile operators which have deployed HSPA or LTE networks is higher that offered by competing ADSL offerings.
Growing Internet usage across the Middle East is highlighting the under-representation of Arabic content online. This has been officially recognised by regulators, with some such as Qatar’s ictQATAR endeavouring to establish digital media hubs to cater for the impending demand. In the broadcasting space, telecom operators are emulating their global counterparts by launching IPTV offerings, which in many instances face tough competition from the region’s flourishing Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite TV sector.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.