ICT infrastructure improves for highly connected BahrainBahrain has often been recognised as being a highly connected country with both very high internet penetration and mobile penetration rates. This will be further enhanced by a number of recent initiatives to improve ICT infrastructure with both LTE 4G and national broadband networks becoming available.
The launch of 4G LTE services has ensured that both broadband and mobile subscriber rates are continuing to grow. A decline in prices in recent years for both residential broadband and mobile broadband has also assisted in this increased uptake of such services. Infrastructure-based competition has been essential to growth; ADSL was once the dominant means of broadband access prior to widespread adoption of WiMAX and mobile broadband, which combined represent over 90% of total broadband subscriptions.
Bahrain has always been at the forefront of Internet penetration in the region but since the introduction of greater competition, and the consequent fall in prices, broadband subscriber numbers have grown rapidly.
The TRA is overseeing the build-out of a national broadband fibre-optic network which it hopes that 80% of the population will have access to by 2018. The network would offer speeds of 300 mb/s and the government will be particularly encouraging small-to-medium enterprises to take up the improved services. The Telecommunications Authority acknowledges that the NBN is essential for Bahrain's telecoms infrastructure growth.
The TRA is also exploring the impact, including any regulatory issues, surrounding developing Interconnect based on IPX and plans to strengthen Bahrain's IP infrastructure going forward. In 2014 BT announced it had formed a partnership with Viva Bahrain to build a Global IP Exchange (GIPX) interoperability hub in Bahrain, with Viva supplying the route as well as hosting and connectivity.
In 2015 the Bahrain telecoms market has established a reputation as having one of the strongest ICT markets in the Middle East, backed by strong support from the government and an enthusiastic population- ready to embrace the technology developments of the future. This foundation is allowing Bahrain to take steps towards the next generation by exploring and implementing solutions surrounding cloud technology, Big Data Management and M2M.
Key telecom parameters 2011; 2015 Sector | 2011 | 2015 Subscribers to telecoms services (million): Broadband | 0.56 | 1.9 Fixed-line telephony | 0.24 | 0.24 Mobile phone | 1.69 | 2.6 (Source: BuddeComm) Note: Broadband subscribers include both fixed and mobile broadband.