Civil conflict creates instability for Yemen's telecoms market
The development of Yemen's telecoms market has been traditionally slow due to the poor economic position of Yemen at both a regional and global level, along with years of political unrest and civil fighting. Tensions recently flared again in Yemen, creating a volatile and violent market which is not conducive to telecoms growth. It has been reported that in some cases, telecoms infrastructure has been deliberately targeted to shut down communications by opposing forces. Attacks on other infrastructure, such as electricity, has also impacted upon overall telecommunications services in the country, creating regular blackouts and unstable connections.
In the midst of the political conflict - fuel shortages have also became a serious and major issue for Yemen. A lack of fuel does not only impact telecommunications operations but also water supplies, health services and food-related logistics.
Prior to the current civil crisis; Yemen was making strides to improve its telecoms infrastructure. Its program to deploy more land lines and ADSL was on track and there were plans to increase international bandwidth. In addition new transmission stations were being installed to support WiMAX and Yemen's national telecom network was being modernised, with most major and secondary cities linked with fibre optic cable. However the status of much of this infrastructure is now unclear, given the reported destruction that has taken place across the war-torn country.
A further inhibitor to the uptake of both Internet and mobile broadband services has been the high costs. Fixed home Internet access is expensive with consumers required to purchase a router and pay for on-going monthly bundles, which can be cost prohibitive. For this reason many citizens choose to utilize Internet cafes instead. In addition, mobile broadband services, as well as smart phone devices, are also very expensive and beyond the reach of much of the population where many live below the poverty line.
Yemen's civil unrest has created unfavourable conditions for substantial telecoms growth and progress for the time being and it is yet unclear how much damage has been done to the physical telecoms infrastructure across the country.
Note: In 2015 the condition of telecoms infrastructure in Yemen is largely unknown and it is reported that there has been significant damage due to the ongoing civil unrest. The estimates given do not take damage into account.
Yemen is heavily dependent upon its revenue generated by oil production; however the economy faces ongoing hardship as oil reserves deplete.
Yemen citizens are faced with high telecom service costs along with heavy subsidies for items such as fuel.
There is an emerging trend of businesses and individuals beginning to offer consumers Internet access via their own hotspots. Legal issues have been raised regarding this practise however.
Prior to the civil unrest; the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology had planned to transition the country to IPv6 over the next couple of years.
At the end of 2014, Yemen's Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology indicated it wanted to finalise the contractual arrangements regarding the Sea-Me-We 5 submarine deployment.
Due to the instability of fixed telecoms infrastructure; there has been a surge in satellite broadband use in Yemen.
With some Internet services such as VoIP and social media intermittently blocked in Yemen - Citizens attempt to bypass this problem by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
Companies covered in this report include:
TeleYemen, Public Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), Yemen Mobile, SabaFon, MTN Yemen, Y Telecom.