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Bahrain - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

Executive summary

Bahrain boosts broadband offerings

Possessing one of the smallest markets in the Middle East, Bahrain’s telecoms market is arguably one the most developed. Early to liberalise its market, it is one of the most open in the region, underpinned by a relatively well-developed regulatory environment. Bahrain’s latest communications development policy, the Third National Telecommunications Plan, recognises the socio economic importance of broadband and hence focuses on improving performance and affordability of broadband services.

In contrast to other countries with high mobile penetration, the number of fixed lines in Bahrain is increasing due to infrastructure based competition by WiMAX operators. Contracting revenue due to growing competition in its home market has forced incumbent Batelco to look abroad for growth, initially focusing on the Middle East region before its late 2012 acquisition of Cable and Wireless International’s Monaco and Island division, comprised of assets in Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Monaco, Afghanistan, Maldives, Diego Garcia, Seychelles, St Helena, Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands.

Bahrain boasts high Internet penetration levels due to strong infrastructure-based competition; ADSL was once the dominant means of broadband access prior to widespread adoption of WiMAX and mobile broadband, but now accounts for only one in eight broadband subscriptions. This figure is expected to fall further as mobile broadband penetration continues to grow.

Recognising the socioeconomic advantages of a connected society, Bahrain has deployed its own National Broadband Network (NBN), using infrastructure from the national Electricity and Water utility company and promising speeds of up to 1Gb/s.

Three network operators compete in the mobile market, which is made up predominantly of prepaid users. Subscriber numbers continue to show strong growth despite a highly-penetrated market, indicating multiple SIM card ownership. Bahrain was one of the first to introduce Long-term Evolution (LTE) technology in the Middle East, with all three operators utilising LTE networks to underpin future revenue growth through take up of mobile, content and application services. An auction of additional spectrum to promote future mobile broadband market growth was halted in early 2013 after a WiMAX operator commenced legal action over its exclusion from what was originally promoted as an open auction.

Key telecom parameters – 2011; 2013

Sector
2011
2013
Subscribers to telecoms services (million):
Broadband
1.0
1.1
Fixed-line telephony
0.24
0.27
Mobile phone
1.69
2.15

(Source: BuddeComm)

Companies covered in this report include:

Batelco, MenaTelecom, Lightspeed Communications, Kalaam Telecom, 2Connect, Noorsat, Bahrain Broadband (Greenisis), Zain Bahrain, Viva Bahrain.

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Bahrain’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, Internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU
  • Internet, IPTV;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, wireless);
  • Convergence and digital media;
  • Broadband subscriber forecasts to 2023;

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
    • 2.1 Country overview
  • 3. Telecommunications market
    • 3.1 Overview of Bahrain’s telecom market
  • 4. Regulatory environment
    • 4.1 Background
    • 4.2 Regulatory authority
    • 4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Bahrain
      • 4.3.1 First National Telecommunications Plan
      • 4.3.2 Second National Telecommunications Plan and planned measures
      • 4.3.3 Third National Telecommunications Plan
      • 4.3.4 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) licences
    • 4.4 Interconnect
    • 4.5 Access
    • 4.6 Number portability
    • 4.7 Privatisation
  • 5. Fixed network operators in Bahrain
    • 5.1 Overview
    • 5.2 Bahrain telecommunications company (Batelco)
    • 5.3 Alternative operators
      • 5.3.1 MenaTelecom
      • 5.3.2 Lightspeed Communications
      • 5.3.3 Kalaam Telecom
      • 5.3.4 2Connect
  • 6. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 6.1 National telecom network
    • 6.2 International infrastructure
      • 6.2.1 Submarine cable networks
      • 6.2.2 Satellite networks
      • 6.2.3 Noorsat
  • 7. Wholesaling
    • 7.1 Overview
    • 7.2 Unbundled services (LLU)
  • 8. Broadband access market
    • 8.1 Overview
    • 8.2 Broadband statistics
    • 8.3 Broadband subscriber forecasts
      • 8.3.1 Scenario 1 – higher growth
      • 8.3.2 Scenario 2 – lower growth
    • 8.4 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
    • 8.5 Fibre to the Home (FttH)
      • 8.5.1 National Broadband Network (NBN)
    • 8.6 Wireless broadband
      • 8.6.1 WiMAX
      • 8.6.2 WiFi
      • 8.6.3 iBurst
  • 9. Digital economy / digital media
    • 9.1 Overview
    • 9.2 E-government
    • 9.3 E-education
    • 9.4 Utilities
  • 10. Digital broadcasting
    • 10.1 Satellite TV
    • 10.2 Broadband TV (IPTV)
    • 10.3 Web TV
  • 11. Mobile communications
    • 11.1 Overview of Bahrain’s mobile market
      • 11.1.1 Mobile statistics
    • 11.2 Regulatory issues
      • 11.2.1 Second mobile licence
      • 11.2.2 Third mobile licence
      • 11.2.3 Prepaid subscriber registration
      • 11.2.4 Roaming tariff reduction
      • 11.2.5 Additional Spectrum
    • 11.3 Mobile technologies
      • 11.3.1 Analogue
      • 11.3.2 Digital
      • 11.3.3 Third Generation (3G)
      • 11.3.4 Long-term evolution (LTE)
    • 11.4 Major mobile operators
      • 11.4.1 Batelco
      • 11.4.2 Zain Bahrain (formerly MTC Vodafone)
      • 11.4.3 Viva Bahrain / STC Bahrain
    • 11.5 Mobile voice services
      • 11.5.1 Prepaid
      • 11.5.2 Credit transfer service
    • 11.6 Mobile broadband (access)
    • 11.7 Mobile content
      • 11.7.1 Batelco
      • 11.7.2 Zain Bahrain
      • 11.7.3 Viva Bahrain
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Bahrain – 2013
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2013
  • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2013
  • Table 4 – Internet subscriber statistics – 2013
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2013
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – GDP growth and inflation – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 8 – Telecom sector revenue – 2006 - 2012
  • Table 9 – Telecom sector revenue breakdown – 2012
  • Table 10 – Batelco revenue and profit – Bahrain and other - 2005 - 2013
  • Table 11 – Batelco revenue by division - 2005 - 2013
  • Table 12 – Batelco total group mobile subscribers – 2005 - 2013
  • Table 13 – Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 – 2004
  • Table 14 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2005 – 2014
  • Table 15 – ARPU for National calls – 2006 - 2012
  • Table 16 – Historic - Internet users and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2004
  • Table 17 – Internet users and penetration estimates - 2005 - 2013
  • Table 18 – Internet subscribers - 2000 - 2013
  • Table 19 – Broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2013
  • Table 20 – Fixed broadband subscriptions – 2010 - 2013
  • Table 21 – Broadband market revenue – 2009 – 2012
  • Table 22 – Broadband subscriptions by access speed – 2007 - 2012
  • Table 23 – Forecast broadband subscribers – higher market growth scenario – 2014; 2019; 2024
  • Table 24 – Forecast broadband subscribers – lower market growth scenario – 2014; 2019; 2024
  • Table 25 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
  • Table 26 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2005 - 2014
  • Table 27 – Mobile market revenue – 2007 – 2012
  • Table 28 – Mobile monthly ARPU – 2008 - 2012
  • Table 29 – Accepted mobile number portability requests – 2011 – 2012
  • Table 30 – Batelco Bahrain mobile subscribers – 2011 - 2013
  • Table 31 – Zain Bahrain – Revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX and ARPU - 2005 - 2012
  • Table 32 – Zain Bahrain – Active Subscribers – 2005 - 2013
  • Table 33 – Prepaid mobile subscribers - 1999 - 2013
  • Table 34 – Zain Bahrain prepaid subscribers - 2004 - 2013
  • Table 35 – Zain – Total daily data volume – 2010 - 2012
  • Table 36 – Blackberry subscribers – 2009 – 2012
  • Table 37 – SMS message sent – 2008 – 2012
  • Chart 1 – Bahrain fixed-line and mobile subscribers – 2004 – 2014

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