Bahrain - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses
Telecommunications revenues rising in the Kingdom of Bahrain There are many positive developments occurring in the liberalised telecoms market of Bahrain. Telecommunications industry revenues are rising, mobile penetration is very high and mobile data is growing faster than voice. There are now well over 2.8 million mobile subscriptions in the Kingdom and penetration sits at over 200%. Consumers are reaping the benefit of competition which has led to a decline in prices for services. Roaming costs have also dropped and will continue to do so for the next few years. The unlicensed mobile sector, led by handset devices, resulted in a revenue growth of 88% between 2014 and 2015. With mobile subscribers accounting for the majority of broadband subscriptions in Bahrain, the operators are focusing heavily on improving mobile infrastructure. LTE networks are well established and the operators are now looking towards new services like VoLTE, LTE-A, M2M and the potential of 5G in the future. Bahrain's Fourth National Telecommunications Plan was prepared by the end of 2015 and given approval by the Ministry in May 2016. It will focus on fibre-optic infrastructure and affordable prices for high-speed access. It also includes 5G development and readiness. Table 1 Key telecom parameters 2014; 2017 Sector | 2014 | 2017 Subscribers to telecoms services (million): (e) Fixed and mobile broadband subscriptions | 1.9 | 2.4 Fixed-line telephony | 0.24 | 0.23 Mobile phone | 2.32 | 2.95
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. Around 79% of mobile subscriptions are prepaid in Bahrain. At the end of Q3 2016, mobile broadband subscriptions accounted for 64% of total mobile subscriptions in Bahrain. The Fourth National Telecommunications Plan was approved in May 2016. Batelco and Ericsson formed a partnership in 2017 which will see them undergo network upgrades to provide LTE-A services as well as expand VoLTE services. It is hoped the infrastructure will also provide the framework for 5G in the future. Zain Bahrain has seen increases in its data revenues during both 2015 and 2016 and data now accounts for around 41% of total revenues. Consumers in Bahrain and other Gulf countries are beginning to enjoy price reductions on roaming rates.