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Bahrain - Telecoms, Mobile & Broadband

BuddeComm’s annual publication, Bahrain - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Bahrain.

Bahrain is the smallest market in the Middle East by population size but it is also one of the most competitive. It was early to liberalise its market and has a well-established regulatory authority. It is also one of the better-documented markets in the region.

Incumbent Batelco shares the fixed-line market with fourteen other operators providing international calling services using international direct dial, carrier pre-selection or prepaid calling cards. Infrastructure is excellent - Batelco completed the rollout of a Next Generation Network in January 2009. Around 70% of international call minutes originating from fixed lines use prepaid calling cards. The introduction of the cards caused average revenue per minute to fall by nearly half over the two years to 2007. Like other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Bahrain has a large expat population (approximately 50% of the total) and this has been the cause of the impact of prepaid VoIP-based calling cards on the market and on Batelco’s international call revenues.

Competition has accelerated in the broadband market during 2008 and 2009 with the launch of WiMAX services by two alternative operators. By mid-2009 WiMAX had a 30% share of the broadband access market, with the market share of Batelco’s ADSL services falling to 54%. Mobile broadband had a 13% market share after rocketing to 14% in 2008 and then levelling off.

In the mobile market Batelco and a subsidiary of Zain of Kuwait have been joined by a third operator - Viva Bahrain owned by STC of Saudi Arabia launched services in March 2010 into a very crowded market. As in other Gulf country markets, mobile penetration is at stratospheric heights. As with other high-expat markets however, the population turnover gives room for growth. It was also thought that STC was particularly interested in buying the licence as a defensive move in its home market to prevent the loss of customers to Zain, now operating in both markets, amongst the many subscribers who travel back and forth on the causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

With competition strong in its home market, Batelco as with other operators in the region has ventured abroad to less developed markets in search of profits - although not on the scale of Zain or Etisalat of the UAE. Batelco has subsidiaries in Kuwait, Jordan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia and a 49% share in S Tel, a recently established Indian mobile operator.

Market highlights:

  • Bahrain has the most competitive telecoms market in the Arab Middle East.
  • Prepaid calling cards have taken a large share of the international calls market.
  • WiMAX use is growing rapidly and has at least 30% of the broadband access market.
  • A third operator has launched into the already very highly penetrated mobile market.


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 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) licences
4.3.3 Second National Telecommunications Plan and planned measures
4.4 Interconnect
4.5 Access
4.5.1 Reference Access Offer (RAO)
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 Mena Telecom
5.3.2 Lightspeed Communications
5.3.3 Kalaam Telecom
5.3.4 2Connect
5.3.5 Viacloud


6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.1.1 Next Generation Networks (NGNs)
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
8.1.1 Broadband statistics
8.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
8.3 Wireless broadband
8.3.1 WiMAX
8.3.2 Internet via satellite
8.3.3 WiFi
8.4 VoIP


9. Digital economy / digital media
9.1 Services
9.1.1 E-government


10. Digital broadcasting
10.1 Satellite TV
10.1.1 OSN Orbit Showtime


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
11.3 Mobile technologies
11.3.1 Analogue
11.3.2 Digital
11.3.3 Third Generation (3G)
11.3.4 Long-term evolution (LTE)
11.4 Major mobile operators
11.4.1 Batelco
11.4.2 Zain Bahrain (formerly MTC Vodafone)
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 messaging
11.7 Mobile broadband (access)
11.8 Mobile content
11.8.1 Batelco
11.8.2 Zain Bahrain


12. Related reports


List of Tables
Table 1 - Country statistics Bahrain - 2010
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2009
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2009
Table 4 - Broadband statistics - 2009
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - June 2010
Table 6 - National telecommunications authority
Table 7 - Total telecommunications market revenue - 2003 - 2008
Table 8 - Telecommunications market revenue by sector - 2008
Table 9 - Fixed-line ARPU - 2007 - 2009
Table 10 - Batelco revenue and profit - Bahrain and other - 2005 - 2009
Table 11 - Batelco revenue by division - 2005 - 2008
Table 12 - Batelco total group mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 13 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2011
Table 14 - Internet users and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2011
Table 15 - Internet subscribers - 1999 - 2009
Table 16 - Broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 17 - Broadband subscribers by access method - 2004 - 2009
Table 18 - Dial-up Internet subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 19 - Market share of Internet and broadband by access method - 2004 - 2009
Table 20 - Broadband subscribers by access speed - 2007 - 2009
Table 21 - Household fixed broadband penetration rate - 2007 - 2009
Table 22 - Business broadband subscribers by access method - 2004 - 2008
Table 23 - Broadband monthly ARPU - 2007 - 2008
Table 24 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2011
Table 25 - Market share per mobile operators- September 2010
Table 26 - Mobile operators’ market share - 2004 - 2009
Table 27 - Mobile monthly ARPU - 2007 - 2009
Table 28 - Zain Bahrain - Revenue, EBITDA, CAPEX and ARPU - 2005 - 2010
Table 29 - Zain Bahrain - Active Subscribers - 2005 - 2010
Table 30 - Prepaid mobile subscribers - 1999 - 2009
Table 31 - Zain Bahrain prepaid subscribers - 2004 - 2010
Table 32 - Average monthly outgoing SMS per subscriber - 2007 - 2009
Table 33 - Total mobile subscriptions with broadband capability - 2006 - 2011

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