Most countries in the Middle East region continue to work towards expanding the reach of fixed broadband infrastructure, complementing the wider reach already achieved by mobile networks. The expansion of fixed broadband infrastructure is generally undertaken by private sector players focussed on urban areas, though there is also considerable state support towards creating a digital transformation affecting societies, businesses, and governments.
The pandemic has provided a significant impetus in this regard. To a greater or lesser extent, a large proportion of people in these countries has been obliged to work from home. With bans on travel and restrictions on social interactions, people have looked to online entertainment. Schools and universities have moved to online learning and digital classrooms. Businesses have transitioned to arrangements whereby employees, where practical, work from home and perform tasks online. With the closure of retail outlets and other restrictions, a greater proportion of transactions is undertaken online, via e-commerce or m-commerce.
In all, these various forces are expediting the pace of existing national broadband plans which have been set in train over the last few years. Some of these plans have long-term schedules (through to 2030 or even 2040), are supported by state funding and are generally being deployed by incumbent telcos or their subsidiaries created for the purpose.
A transition from DSL to fibre-based networks continues in many Middle Eastern markets. As 5G is being ramped up by the regions’ mobile network operators, these fixed networks are being connected to mobile base stations to provide the necessary backhaul.
Mobile Telecommunications Co (MTC) / Zain, Ooredoo Kuwait (previously National Mobile Telecommunication Co (NMT) / Wataniya Telecom), Kuwait Telecom Company (KTC) / Viva, Batelco, Zain Bahrain, Viva Bahrain, Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), Mobile Communications Iran (MCI), MTN Irancell, Tamin Telecom (Rightel), Mobile Telecommunications Company of Isfahan (MTCE), Telecommunication Kish Company (TKC), Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC), Asiacell, Zain Iraq, Korek Telecom, Regional Telecom, Cellcom, Orange (Partner), Pelephone (Bezeq), HOT Mobile, Golan Telecom, Rami Levy, Jordan Telecom Group/Orange, Zain Jordan, Batelco/Umniah, Saudi Telecom Company (STC)/Bravo, Integrated Telecom Company (ITC)/Bayn Consortium, GO Telecom/Etihad Atheeb, Mobily/Etihad Etisalat/Bayanat Al-Oula, Zain KSA, Lebara KSA/Etihad Jawraa, Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa (Virgin Mobile MEA), Axiom Telecom, VIVA, Etisalat, du, Jordan Telecom Group/Orange, Zain Jordan, Batelco/Umniah, MTC Touch, Alfa Telecom, Ooredoo Qatar, Vodafone Qatar, OmanTel, Ooredoo Oman, FRiENDi, Majan Telecom (Renna), Samatel, Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE), MTN Syria, Syriatel, Turkcell, Vodafone Turkey, Avea
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