2007 Middle East - Telecoms Mobile & Broadband in The Gulf Countries

Publication Overview

The Gulf countries are Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen, many of which are small countries, yet leaders in technology use. This annual report offers a wealth of information on trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, Internet, broadband and converging media. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments
  • Facts, figures and statistics
  • Industry and regulatory issues
  • Research, Marketing, Benchmarking
  • Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers

Executive Summary

BuddeComm’s latest Middle East Annual Publication, ‘2007 Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in the Gulf countries of the Middle East’, profiles the wealthy countries of the GCC, strife-torn Iraq, very poor Yemen and the regulated market of Iran.

There has been a change in atmosphere regarding broadband in the Gulf region over the past year. Internet and broadband penetration rates remain low in many countries, access speeds are relatively slow and tariffs are relatively high compared with other regions in the world, but the wealthier countries are making a strong push to follow in the UAE’s footsteps towards higher broadband penetration.

The mobile market is already very well developed in the wealthier countries of the region. 3G services are widely available. In the more developed markets customers want the latest in high-end handsets and have the income to pay for them.

Several local operators with deep pockets have grown enormously through buying operators and licences, with interests across the Middle East and extending into Africa and West Asia. Three operators are vying for supremacy: Etisalat of the UAE, most of whose subsidiaries are in Africa, MTC of Kuwait and, more recently, Qtel of Qatar. Batelco of Bahrain has also joined the fray but is not yet on the scale of the other three.

This report presents a concise overview of sector liberalisation and privatisation in the region, the development of product offerings for both mobile and broadband technologies, essential operator statistics in all telecom sectors, and the emergence of convergence and triple play.

Key Highlights

  • Bahrain has much the most liberalised market in the region. Numerous alternative operators mostly offering prepaid VoIP-based calling cards have had a large impact on the fixed-line market (and on Batelco’s international call revenues). In addition two WiMAX licences were issued in early 2007 to alternative operator Mena Telecom and second mobile operator MTC Vodafone Bahrain. Incumbent Batelco failed to win a licence. For more information, see chapter 1.4.2, page 6.
  • Elsewhere VoIP services are generally banned, a particularly contentious issue in the UAE. For more information, see chapter 8.7.2, page 116.
  • Broadband growth has taken off in the Gulf countries, Broadband subscribers in Qatar increased nearly 100% during 2006. Subscriber numbers increased by over 50% in Bahrain.
  • The UAE has also seen a further 50% growth in broadband subscriber numbers from its already very high household penetration rates of around 60%.
  • Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE have some of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world and continue to show surprisingly strong growth going into 2007.
  • Mobile penetration has increased dramatically quickly in Iraq but the deteriorating security situation appears to have put a break on growth by mid-2007. For more information, see chapter 3.8.1, page 39.
  • All countries in the region with the single exception of Qatar (which plans to issue a second licence by end-2007) now have at least two mobile operators. Qatar plans to issue a second licence by end-2007.
  • Mobile growth in Iran is very high since the launch of a second national operator, Irancell, in September 2006, after a difficult path to launch. Prepaid services were launched for the first time in early 2007. For more information, see chapter 2.8.2.1, page 26.
  • Some very large prices have been paid for mobile licences in the region but the payment in May 2007 by MTC of US$6.1 billion for a third mobile licence in Saudi Arabia has beaten all records. For more information, see chapter 7.8.2.4, page 98.
  • Qtel was the first regional operator to trial DVB-H in 2006. Both UAE operators offer mobile TV services.
  • By mid-2007 well over 300 FTA satellite channels competed for viewers across the Middle East North Africa region. Channel numbers grew by over 50% in the previous year and doubled over the previous two years. Around 75% are privately owned. Many operate out of Dubai in the UAE.

Gulf countries mobile penetration and annual growth - 2007

Country Penetration Annual Growth
Bahrain 140% 23%
Iran 24% 96
Iraq 34% 104%
Kuwait 103% 6%
Oman 70% 34%
Qatar 127% 35%
Saudi Arabia 74% 49%
UAE 134% 21%
Yemen 14% 47%
(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

For those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on this region, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:

  • Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
  • Telecoms operators – new licences, acquisitions and competition;
  • Internet and broadband development and growth;
  • The fast growing mobile markets of the region;
  • Mobile application and content developments.

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

Table of Contents

1.BAHRAIN
1.1Key statistics
1.2Telecommunications market
1.2.1Overview of Bahrain’s telecom market
1.3Regulatory environment
1.3.1Background
1.3.2Regulatory authority
1.3.3Telecom sector liberalisation in Bahrain
1.3.4Interconnect
1.3.5Access
1.3.6Number portability
1.3.7Carrier preselection
1.4Fixed network operators in Bahrain
1.4.1Bahrain telecommunications company (Batelco)
1.4.2Alternative operators
1.5Telecommunications infrastructure
1.5.1National telecom network
1.5.2International infrastructure
1.6Broadband and Internet market
1.6.1Overview
1.6.2Broadband overview
1.6.3ADSL
1.6.4Wireless broadband
1.6.5Internet economy
1.7Convergence
1.7.1Overview of media convergence
1.7.2VoIP
1.7.3Triple play
1.7.4Overview of broadcasting market
1.8Mobile communications
1.8.1Overview of Bahrain’s mobile market
1.8.2Regulatory issues
1.8.3Mobile technologies
1.8.4Major mobile operators
1.8.5Mobile voice services
1.8.6Mobile data services
1.8.7Mobile content
2.IRAN
2.1Key statistics
2.2Telecommunications market
2.2.1Overview of Iran’s telecom market
2.3Regulatory environment
2.3.1Background
2.3.2The fourth five-year development plan (2005 – 2010)
2.3.3Regulatory authority
2.4Fixed network operator in Iran
2.4.1Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI)
2.5Telecommunications infrastructure
2.5.1National telecom network
2.5.2International infrastructure
2.6Broadband and Internet market
2.6.1Overview
2.6.2ADSL
2.6.3Wireless Broadband
2.7Convergence
2.7.1Overview of media convergence
2.7.2VoIP
2.7.3Overview of broadcasting market
2.7.4Satellite TV
2.8Mobile communications
2.8.1Overview of Iran’s mobile market
2.8.2Regulatory issues
2.8.3Major mobile operators
2.8.4Mobile voice services
2.8.5Mobile data services
3.IRAQ
3.1Key statistics
3.2Telecommunications market
3.2.1Overview of Iraq’s telecom market
3.3Regulatory environment
3.3.1Background
3.3.2Regulatory authority
3.3.3Telecom sector liberalisation in Iraq
3.4Fixed network operator in Iraq
3.4.1Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC)
3.5Telecommunications infrastructure
3.5.1National telephone network
3.5.2International infrastructure
3.6Broadband and Internet market
3.6.1Overview
3.6.2Wireless broadband
3.7Convergence
3.7.1Overview of media convergence
3.7.2Overview of broadcasting market
3.8Mobile communications
3.8.1Overview of Iraq’s mobile market
3.8.2Regulatory issues
3.8.3Mobile technologies
3.8.4Major mobile operators
3.8.5Other mobile operators
3.8.6Mobile voice services
3.8.7Mobile data
4.KUWAIT
4.1Key statistics
4.2Telecommunications market
4.2.1Overview of Kuwait’s telecom market
4.3Regulatory environment
4.3.1Background
4.3.2Regulatory authority
4.3.3Privatisation of Mobile Telecommunications Co
4.4Fixed network operator in Kuwait
4.4.1Ministry of Communications
4.5Telecommunications infrastructure
4.5.1National telecom network
4.5.2International infrastructure
4.5.3Infrastructure developments
4.6Broadband and Internet market
4.6.1Overview
4.6.2ISP market
4.6.3ADSL
4.6.4Wireless broadband
4.7Convergence
4.7.1Overview of media convergence
4.7.2Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
4.7.3Overview of broadcasting market
4.8Mobile communications
4.8.1Overview of Kuwait’s mobile market
4.8.2Regulatory issues
4.8.3Mobile technologies
4.8.4Major mobile operators
4.8.5Mobile voice services
4.8.6Mobile data services
4.8.7Mobile content and applications
5.OMAN
5.1Key statistics
5.2Telecommunications market
5.2.1Overview of Oman’s telecom market
5.3Regulatory environment
5.3.1Background
5.3.2Regulatory authority
5.3.3Telecom sector liberalisation in Oman
5.3.4Privatisation
5.3.5Interconnect
5.3.6Number Portability (NP)
5.3.7Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
5.4Fixed network operator in Oman
5.4.1Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel)
5.5Telecommunications infrastructure
5.5.1National telecom network
5.5.2International infrastructure
5.6Broadband and Internet market
5.6.1Overview
5.6.2Leased lines
5.6.3Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
5.6.4Wireless broadband
5.7Convergence
5.7.1Overview
5.7.2Overview of broadcasting market
5.8Mobile communications
5.8.1Overview of Oman’s mobile market
5.8.2Regulatory issues
5.8.3Mobile technologies
5.8.4Major mobile operators
5.8.5Mobile voice services
5.8.6Mobile data services
5.8.7Mobile content and applications
6.QATAR
6.1Key statistics
6.2Telecommunications market
6.2.1Overview of Qatar’s telecom market
6.3Regulatory environment
6.3.1Background
6.3.2Regulatory authority
6.3.3Telecom sector liberalisation in Qatar
6.3.4Privatisation
6.4Fixed network operator in Qatar
6.4.1Qtel
6.5Telecommunications infrastructure
6.5.1National telecom network
6.5.2International infrastructure
6.6Broadband and Internet market
6.6.1Overview
6.6.2ADSL broadband
6.6.3Wireless Broadband
6.7Convergence
6.7.1Overview of media convergence
6.7.2Triple play
6.7.3IPTV
6.7.4Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
6.7.5Overview of broadcasting market
6.7.6Al Jazeera
6.8Mobile communications
6.8.1Overview of Qatar’s mobile market
6.8.2Mobile technologies
6.8.3Major mobile operator
6.8.4Mobile voice services
6.8.5Mobile data services
6.8.6Mobile content and applications
7.SAUDI ARABIA
7.1Key statistics
7.2Telecommunications market
7.2.1Overview of Saudi Arabia’s telecom market
7.3Regulatory environment
7.3.1Background
7.3.2Regulatory authority
7.3.3Telecom sector liberalisation in Saudi Arabia
7.3.4Privatisation
7.3.5Interconnect and access
7.3.6Number Portability (NP)
7.3.7Universal service
7.4Fixed network operators in Saudi Arabia
7.4.1Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
7.4.2ITC
7.4.3Bayanat Al-Oula
7.4.4Saudi Oger
7.5Telecommunications infrastructure
7.5.1National telecom network
7.5.2International infrastructure
7.6Broadband and Internet market
7.6.1Overview
7.6.2ISP market
7.6.3Broadband market overview
7.6.4DSL
7.6.5Broadband powerline (BPL)
7.6.6Leased lines
7.6.7Wireless broadband
7.7Convergence
7.7.1Overview of media convergence
7.7.2Overview of broadcasting market
7.8Mobile communications
7.8.1Overview of Saudi Arabia’s mobile market
7.8.2Regulatory issues
7.8.3Mobile technologies
7.8.4Major mobile operators
7.8.5Mobile voice services
7.8.6Mobile data services
7.8.7Mobile applications
8.UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
8.1Key statistics
8.2Telecommunications market
8.2.1Overview of UAE’s telecom market
8.2.2Market analysis – 2007
8.3Regulatory environment
8.3.1Background
8.3.2Regulatory authority
8.3.3Liberalisation
8.3.4VoIP prohibited
8.4Telecom operators in UAE
8.4.1Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat)
8.4.2Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company / du
8.4.3TECOM Investments / Dubai Holding
8.4.4Mubadala Development Company
8.4.5UAE investment companies owning telcos outside the UAE
8.5Telecommunications infrastructure
8.5.1National telecom networks
8.5.2Infrastructure developments
8.5.3International infrastructure
8.6Broadband and Internet market
8.6.1Overview
8.6.2Internet access locations
8.6.3ISP market
8.6.4Broadband market overview
8.6.5Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
8.6.6Cable modems
8.6.7Wireless broadband
8.6.8Internet economy
8.7Convergence
8.7.1Overview of media convergence
8.7.2Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
8.7.3Overview of broadcasting market
8.7.4Digital TV
8.8Mobile communications
8.8.1Overview of UAE’s mobile market
8.8.2Regulatory issues
8.8.3Mobile technologies
8.8.4Major mobile operators
8.8.5Mobile voice services
8.8.6Mobile data services
8.8.7Mobile content and applications
9.YEMEN
9.1Key statistics
9.2Telecommunications market
9.2.1Overview of Yemen’s telecom market
9.3Regulatory environment
9.3.1Regulatory authority
9.3.2Telecom sector liberalisation in Yemen
9.3.3Privatisation
9.4Fixed network operators in Yemen
9.4.1TeleYemen / Yemen International Telecommunication Company
9.4.2Public Telecommunications Corporation (PTC)
9.5Telecommunications infrastructure
9.5.1National telecom network
9.5.2International infrastructure
9.6Broadband and Internet market
9.6.1Overview of the Internet in Yemen
9.6.2Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband
9.7Mobile communications
9.7.1Overview of Yemen’s mobile market
9.7.2Regulatory issues
9.7.3Major mobile operators
9.7.4Mobile voice services
9.7.5Mobile data services
10.GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS


Table 1 – Country statistics Bahrain – 2006
Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – Oct 2006
Table 3 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 4 – Broadband statistics – April 2007
Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2006
Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
Table 7 – Batelco revenue, profit and group mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2006
Table 8 – Batelco revenue by division - 2005 - 2006
Table 9 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 10 – Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2005
Table 11 – Internet subscribers - 1999 - 2006
Table 12 – Batelco broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2007
Table 13 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2006
Table 14 – Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator – December 2006
Table 15 – MTC-Vodafone Bahrain: Revenue, ARPU - 2005 - 2006
Table 16 – Prepaid mobile subscribers - 1999 - 2006
Table 17 – MTC prepaid subscribers - 2004 - 2006
Table 18 – Country statistics Iran – 2006
Table 19 – Telephone network statistics – February 2007
Table 20 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 21 – Mobile statistics – March 2007
Table 22 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 23 – Annual fixed-line objectives for the Fourth five year plan – 2005 - 2010
Table 24 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1995 - 2007
Table 25 – Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 26 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2007
Table 27 – Mobile subscribers and annual growth by operator – December 2006
Table 28 – Country statistics Iraq – 2005
Table 29 – Telephone network statistics – 2006
Table 30 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 31 – Mobile statistics – 2006
Table 32 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 33 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1990 - 2006
Table 34 – Internet user estimates – 2001 - 2006
Table 35 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 2003 - 2006
Table 36 – Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator – December 2006
Table 37 – Mobile operator market shares – September 2006
Table 38 – Mobile operator average ARPU - 2004 - 2006
Table 39 – Country statistics Kuwait – 2006
Table 40 – Telephone network statistics – 2006
Table 41 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 42 – Broadband statistics – 2006
Table 43 – Mobile statistics – 2006
Table 44 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 45 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 46 – Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 47 – Internet subscribers - 2003 - 2006
Table 48 – Broadband DSL subscribers - 2001 - 2006
Table 49 – TV market – TVs and satellites - 2000 - 2006
Table 50 – Mobile subscribers - 1994 - 2006
Table 51 – Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator – December 2006
Table 52 – MTC Group subscribers, revenue and profit - 2004 - 2007
Table 53 – MTC Kuwait Revenue and ARPU – 2005 - 2006
Table 54 – MTC Prepaid subscribers – 2005 - 2006
Table 55 – Country statistics Oman – 2006
Table 56 – Telephone network statistics – March 2007
Table 57 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 58 – Broadband statistics – March 2007
Table 59 – Mobile statistics – March 2007
Table 60 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 61 – Omantel revenue, expenditure and fixed-line ARPU – 2003 - 2006
Table 62 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2007
Table 63 – Internet user and penetration estimates - 1998 - 2006
Table 64 – Internet subscribers – 2000 - 2007
Table 65 – Mobile subscribers - 1994 - 2007
Table 66 – Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - December 2006
Table 67 – Prepaid and postpaid subscribers – 2005 - 2007
Table 68 – Prepaid and postpaid subscribers by operator – June 2005
Table 69 – Country statistics Qatar – 2006
Table 70 – Telephone network statistics – 2006
Table 71 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 72 – Broadband statistics – 2006
Table 73 – Mobile statistics – March 2007
Table 74 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 75 – Qtel revenue and net profit – 2005 - 2006
Table 76 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 77 – Fixed-line household penetration - 2001 - 2006
Table 78 – Internet user and penetration estimates – 1995 - 2006
Table 79 – Internet subscribers - 1999 - 2006
Table 80 – ADSL subscribers - 2003 - 2006
Table 81 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2007
Table 82 – Prepaid subscribers - 2000 - 2006
Table 83 –Prepaid subscribers as a percentage of total - 2002 - 2006
Table 84 – Country statistics Saudi Arabia – 2006
Table 85 – Telephone network statistics – 2006
Table 86 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 87 – Broadband statistics – March 2007
Table 88 – Mobile statistics – 2006
Table 89 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 90 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1994 - 2006
Table 91 – Internet users and penetration estimates – 1995 - 2006
Table 92 – Internet subscribers - 2000 - 2006
Table 93 – DSL subscribers - 2001 - 2007
Table 94 – TV receivers and TV equipped households - 2000 - 2006
Table 95 – Mobile ARPU - 2005 - 2006
Table 96 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2006
Table 97 – Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator – December 2006
Table 98 – Country statistics United Arab Emirates – 2006
Table 99 – Telephone network statistics – 2006
Table 100 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 101 – Broadband statistics – 2006
Table 102 – Mobile statistics – 2006
Table 103 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 104 – Etisalat revenues and divisional representation - 2005 - 2006
Table 105 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 106 – Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 107 – Internet subscribers - 1995 - 2006
Table 108 – Dial-up Internet subscribers – 2001 - 2006
Table 109 – Broadband subscribers – 2000 - 2006
Table 110 – TV and cable TV market - 2000 - 2006
Table 111 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2006
Table 112 – Mobile subscribers by operator – December 2006
Table 113 – Prepaid mobile subscribers - 2003 - 2005
Table 114 – Country statistics Yemen – 2006
Table 115 – Telephone network statistics – 2006
Table 116 – Internet user statistics – 2006
Table 117 – Mobile statistics – 2006
Table 118 – National telecommunications authorities
Table 119 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 120 – Internet user and penetration estimates – 1996 - 2006
Table 121 – Internet subscribers – 2004 - 2006
Table 122 – Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator – December 2006
Table 123 – Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1998 - 2006
Table 124 – SpaceTel ARPU per month – 2003 - 2006

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Number of pages 161

Status Archived

Last updated 5 Jul 2007
Update History

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

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