Bahrain - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Executive summary

ICT infrastructure improves for “highly connected” Bahrain

Bahrain has often been recognised as being a “highly connected” country with both very high internet penetration and mobile penetration rates. This will be further enhanced by a number of recent initiatives to improve ICT infrastructure with both LTE 4G and national broadband networks becoming available.

The launch of 4G LTE services has ensured that both broadband and mobile subscriber rates are continuing to grow. A decline in prices in recent years for both residential broadband and mobile broadband has also assisted in this increased uptake of such services. Infrastructure-based competition has been essential to growth; ADSL was once the dominant means of broadband access prior to widespread adoption of WiMAX and mobile broadband, which combined represent over 90% of total broadband subscriptions.

Bahrain has always been at the forefront of Internet penetration in the region but since the introduction of greater competition, and the consequent fall in prices, broadband subscriber numbers have grown rapidly.

The TRA is overseeing the build-out of a national broadband fibre-optic network which it hopes that 80% of the population will have access to by 2018. The network would offer speeds of 300 mb/s and the government will be particularly encouraging small-to-medium enterprises to take up the improved services. The Telecommunications Authority acknowledges that the NBN is essential for Bahrain’s telecoms infrastructure growth.

The TRA is also exploring the impact, including any regulatory issues, surrounding developing Interconnect based on IPX and plans to strengthen Bahrain’s IP infrastructure going forward. In 2014 BT announced it had formed a partnership with Viva Bahrain to build a Global IP Exchange (GIPX) interoperability hub in Bahrain, with Viva supplying the route as well as hosting and connectivity.

In 2015 the Bahrain telecoms market has established a reputation as having one of the strongest ICT markets in the Middle East, backed by strong support from the government and an enthusiastic population- ready to embrace the technology developments of the future. This foundation is allowing Bahrain to take steps towards the next generation by exploring and implementing solutions surrounding cloud technology, Big Data Management and M2M.

Key telecom parameters – 2011; 2015

Sector
2011
2015
Subscribers to telecoms services (million):
Broadband
0.56
1.9
Fixed-line telephony
0.24
0.24
Mobile phone
1.69
2.6

(Source: BuddeComm)

Note: Broadband subscribers include both fixed and mobile broadband.

Companies covered in this report include:

Batelco, MenaTelecom, Lightspeed Communications, Kalaam Telecom, 2Connect, Noorsat, Zain Bahrain, Viva Bahrain.

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 Kalaam Telecom
      • 5.3.3 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 and Internet 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 Social media
    • 9.3 Big Data
    • 9.4 E-government
    • 9.5 E-education
    • 9.6 Utilities
    • 9.7 Sharing economy
  • 10. Digital broadcasting
    • 10.1 Satellite TV
    • 10.2 Broadband TV (IPTV)
    • 10.3 Web TV/Video streaming
  • 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
    • 11.3 Mobile technologies
      • 11.3.1 Analogue
      • 11.3.2 Digital
      • 11.3.3 Third Generation (3G)
      • 11.3.4 4G/Long-term evolution (LTE)
    • 11.4 Major mobile operators
      • 11.4.1 Batelco
      • 11.4.2 Zain Bahrain
      • 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 SMS
      • 11.7.1 Mobile messaging apps
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Country statistics Bahrain – 2015
  • Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2015
  • Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2015
  • Table 4 – Broadband subscriber statistic – 2015
  • Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2015
  • Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
  • Table 7 – GDP growth and inflation – 2005 - 2015
  • Table 8 – Telecom sector revenue – 2006 - 2013
  • Table 9 – Telecom sector revenue breakdown – 2012; 2013
  • Table 10 – Batelco revenue and profit – Bahrain and other - 2005 – Q1 2015
  • Table 11 – Batelco revenue by division - 2005 – Q1 2015
  • 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 – 2015
  • Table 15 – ARPU for National calls – 2006 - 2013
  • Table 16 – Historic - Internet users and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2004
  • Table 17 – Internet users and penetration estimates - 2005 - 2015
  • Table 18 – Broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2015
  • Table 19 – Forecast broadband subscribers – higher market growth scenario – 2016; 2019; 2024
  • Table 20 – Forecast broadband subscribers – lower market growth scenario – 2016; 2019; 2024
  • Table 21 – Bahrain – IPTV subscribers – Q1 2013; Q1 2014; Q1 2015
  • Table 22 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
  • Table 23 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2005 - 2015
  • Table 24 – Mobile market revenue – 2007 - 2013
  • Table 25 – Mobile monthly ARPU – 2008 - 2013
  • Table 26 – Accepted mobile number portability requests – 2011 - 2014
  • Table 27 – Batelco Bahrain subscribers – 2011 - 2014
  • Table 28 – Zain Bahrain – revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX and ARPU - 2005 - 2014
  • Table 29 – Zain Bahrain mobile subscribers – 2005 - 2014
  • Table 30 – Bahrain total prepaid mobile subscribers - 1999 - 2014
  • Table 31 – Zain Bahrain prepaid subscribers - 2004 - 2014
  • Table 32 – Mobile broadband subscribers – 2012 - 2015
  • Table 33 – SMS message sent – 2008 - 2013
  • Exhibit 1 – Bahrain – National fixed voice services operators

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