2008 Middle Eastern - Convergence, Broadband and Internet Market

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Last updated: 8 Oct 2008 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 119

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Publication Overview

Counties covered: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE and Yemen.


This annual report offers a wealth of information on the broadband, Internet, and convergence markets in the Middle East. Subjects covered include:

·         Internet and broadband statistics;

·         Government policies and regulatory issues;

·         Broadband technologies;

·         Convergence and triple play models;

·         Satellite and pay TV market trends;

·         Digital media developments.


Researchers:- Tine Lewis, Paul Kwon and Peter Lange

Current publication date: September 2008 (7th Edition)

Next publication date:- October 2009

Executive Summary

This Middle East market report covers the broadband and Internet markets, as well as convergence, pay TV, and digital media, for the following countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE and Yemen. The region’s markets include: 


The entire Egyptian Internet sector is highly competitive with more than 200 Internet and data service providers, which has led to low prices for ADSL services and broadband packages with up to 24Mb/s delivered to residential households. VoIP Internet telephony has been liberalised, and several companies are rolling out next generation networks to provide converged IP-based voice and data services. 


Israel has one of the highest household broadband penetration rates in the world at around 70% of all households and 95% of Internet households. Market competition is fierce between cable and DSL infrastructures, both of which are subject to universal service obligations, between ISPs and between incumbent telco Bezeq’s satellite TV subsidiary YES and cable TV operator HOT.  

A strong entrepreneurial culture mixed with the high broadband penetration rates creates fertile ground for digital media and e-commerce. Convergence, upgraded infrastructure and regulatory measures encouraging competition are disrupting the status quo leading to a time of change in this very interesting and advanced market. 


Broadband subscribers are increasing at a rapid rate in Qatar, at over 50% per year for the past three years. Qatar is unusual among the GCC countries in not prohibiting VoIP services and incumbent Qtel has no plans to block services. It is preparing for the first competition in its market as Vodafone prepares to launch in the mobile sector.  

Qatar is home to the very popular Arab news channel Al Jazeera, which claims high viewer ratings in the Middle East with an estimated 50 million viewers. 

Saudi Arabia

The broadband market has been slow to grow in Saudi Arabia. Penetration rates remain low for the level of development. Greater competition in the sector is likely to have a significant effect in the near future with Etisalat-owned mobile operator Mobily’s purchase of Bayanat Al-Oula, a licensed data provider and fellow partner in the alternative fibre optic backbone network.  

While few Middle East media companies are based in Saudi Arabia, most of the larger ones are Saudi owned, including the most watched FTA channel MBC, two out of the three pay TV operators, and up and coming TV and digital media company, Rotana.  


The UAE has the highest broadband penetration rates of the Arab Middle East countries and levels are still growing quickly. Internet user penetration was over 50% in 2008, according to the TRA. Government policy has included encouragement for media, IT and Internet-related businesses and Dubai has become a regional centre for the industry. Dubai is also a hub for the burgeoning satellite-delivered Middle East TV industry. Of the 300+ regional FTA satellite channels around 25% are based in Dubai.  

For those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the Internet and broadband markets in the Middle East, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:

·         The rapidly developing broadband markets in wealthier countries in the region;

·         The dynamic Arab satellite TV market;

·         VoIP developments and problems;

·         Digital media developments and challenges.


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

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