Middle East - Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband
Mobile broadband infrastructure grows in the Middle East
Mobile communication has become very popular in the Middle East and penetration has increased remarkedly in recent years. The United Arab Emirates; Kuwait and Bahrain all have mobile penetration rates of over 200% and Jordan is not far behind with around 190%.
Mobile broadband still has growth potential in many markets however. Jordan, for example, has high mobile penetration but its mobile broadband penetration is only around 77%. Turkey also has a relatively low mobile broadband penetration rate in comparison to its very large population.
Many governments and operators have realised that high-speed mobile infrastructure is the key to driving mobile broadband growth and revenues. Subsequently, many of the higher-income markets, including countries of the Gulf Corporation Council, offer comprehensive 4G LTE networks and are now looking towards the next wave of technological developments.
In Bahrain, for example, LTE networks are well established, and the operators are exploring VoLTE, LTE-A, M2M and the potential of 5G in the future. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates plan to be some of the first in the region to launch commercial 5G services.
The Saudi Arabian government has also recognised the importance of broadband infrastructure for the future and entered 2018 on a positive note with the announcement of its largest financial budget ever. It will support the country’s expansion and diversification plans as part of its Vision 2030 program, which includes supporting potential investments in broadband infrastructure.
While parts of the Middle East are having ongoing civil unrest issues which has stagnated telecoms developments (e.g. Syria, Yemen) – the more stabilised and progressive countries are moving forwards and making significant inroads in developing and progressing mobile infrastructure and mobile broadband services.
This BuddeComm annual publication provides a country level analyses of 14 mobile markets across the Middle East including Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. It includes information on the mobile industry structure for each country, key mobile industry statistics including mobile broadband subscribers, regulatory information and analyses of mobile broadband and mobile infrastructure trends and developments.
This annual publication also incorporates BuddeComm’s ‘Middle East Telecoms Maturity Index’ (TMI). This is an index (on a scale between 0% and 100%) which measures and ranks the relative maturity of the telecoms industries in 12 countries in the region (Syria and Yemen have been excluded from the index at this time). The Index has been devised as a tool to compare the different markets easily and uniformly. Countries have been placed into Market Leaders, Market Challengers or Market Laggards categories according to their Market Index score. Countries are compared according to a number of parameters with a focus on fixed broadband and mobile broadband penetration. GDP is also included in a number of charts both for illustrative purposes and as a gauge to help decipher market maturity. However, a number of countries low on the Index scale are noted for the considerable effort still required in terms of market investment, regulatory oversight and effective government-sponsored direction. Given the poor condition of the telecoms market in these countries they have not been placed into either category.
Developing mobile infrastructure in the Middle East is important due to a general lack of significant fixed broadband infrastructure.
There are some countries demonstrating global leadership in terms of 5G development in the Middle East – and many other countries are also making strategic plans and partnerships in this regard.
Companies mentioned in this report
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/Ettihad 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.