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Middle East - Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband

Middle East - Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband

Many countries in the Middle East have substantial mobile infrastructure in place, particularly in the urban areas. It is encouraging to see that some governments and operators are now focusing on improving services in the rural areas. In Iran, for example, two of the major operators recently agreed to provide national roaming, with an aim to improve availability to services in rural areas.

Government support is imperative to the growth of telecommunications infrastructure and many countries in the Middle East have strong government backing. In Bahrain, for example, there are a number of developments underway which will improve both telecoms services and infrastructure and it is the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) which is the primary driver behind many of these plans.

Several countries are at the forefront of 5G development at a global level. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular are demonstrating significant progress towards 5G. The UAE for example, has the appropriate infrastructure in place to take advantage of 5G as it boasts one of the world’s highest mobile penetration rates, substantial 4G LTE infrastructure and is considered one of the leaders in the region. It has already allocated spectrum frequencies to Etisalat and Du for 5G deployment use.

The Telecoms Maturity Index (TMI) is used to fuel regional analysis, it provides a unique approach and allows a comprehensive country vs region comparison. This TMI measures and ranks the following 12 countries in the Middle East region including: Bahrain; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Oman; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Recent developments:

All countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have extremely high mobile penetration.
Many governments and operators have realised that high-speed mobile infrastructure is the key to driving mobile broadband growth and revenues.
A number of recent investments in infrastructure have seen 4G LTE services flourish in many markets.
There are a few countries demonstrating leadership in terms of 5G development in the Middle East – and a number of other countries are also making strategic plans and partnerships in this regard.
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.

Companies mentioned in this report include:

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.


  • Executive Summary
  • Regional overview
    • Table Middle East - mobile subscriptions and annual growth - 2014 - 2019
    • Table Middle East - mobile subscriptions by country - 2014 - 2019
    • MOBILE BROADBAND
      • Table Middle East - 3G and 4G - mobile infrastructure and population coverage – 2014 – 2017
    • 5G INSIGHTS
    • TMI: INTRODUCTION AND STATISTICAL OVERVIEW
      • Market analysis
    • MIDDLE EAST TELECOM MATURITY INDEX (TMI)
    • TMI VERSUS GDP
      • Market Leaders
      • Market Challengers
      • Market Emergents
    • MOBILE AND MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
    • FIXED AND MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
    • GCC COUNTRIES FIXED AND MOBILE BROADBAND PENETRATION
    • MARKET CHARACTERISTICS
  • Bahrain
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
      • Table Bahrain - Telecom sector revenue - 2006 - 2016
      • Table Bahrain - Telecom sector revenue breakdown - 2013 - 2016
      • Market analysis
    • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Regulatory authority
      • Overview
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Bahrain
      • Interconnect
      • Access
      • Number portability
        • Table Bahrain - Accepted cumulative mobile number portability requests - 2011 - 1H 2017
      • Privatisation
      • Mobile licenses
      • Subscriber registration
      • Roaming tariff reduction
      • Mobile Termination Rates (MTR)
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Historic - Bahrain - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
        • Table Bahrain - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2005 - 2019
    • MOBILE VOICE
      • Prepaid
        • Table Bahrain - total prepaid mobile subscribers - 1999 - Q3 2018
        • Table Bahrain - Retail mobile market revenue - 2012 - 2017
        • Table Bahrain - Mobile ARPS - 2012 - 2017
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Bahrain - Mobile subscribers with active mobile broadband subscriptions – 2013 - Q1 2018
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Brief intro analogue networks
      • Digital networks
        • Table Bahrain - Global - frequency bands under consideration for 5G deployment
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Iran
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
      • Alleged sanction violations
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Sixth five year plan 2016 -2021
      • Regulatory authority
      • WiMAX licences
      • Number Portability (NP)
      • Roaming
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
      • MVNOs
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Iran - historic mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2006
        • Table Iran - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2007 - 2019
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Iran - mobile broadband subscriptions and penetration - 2013 - 2020
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Second mobile licence - MTN Irancell
      • Third Mobile licence - Tamin Telecom (Rightel)
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 5G
      • 4G LTE
      • GSM, 3G
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • Messaging services
      • M-banking (payments/loans)
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Iraq
    • HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Iraq
    • MOBILE HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
      • Mobile statistics
        • Table Iraq - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2002 - 2019
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Iraq - Active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2014 - 2019
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Temporary mobile licences awarded in 2003
      • Permanent licences awarded in 2007
      • Fourth mobile licence
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 3G
      • 4G LTE
      • 5G
      • Satellite mobile
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
    • M-BANKING AND M-PAYMENTS
  • Israel
    • OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • KEY RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Privatisation of Bezeq
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Israel
      • Number Portability (NP)
      • Net Neutrality
      • Wholesale
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
      • Table Israel - Major mobile operators' monthly mobile ARPU - 2013 - 2018
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Israel - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
        • Table Israel - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2005 - 2023
      • Mobile broadband statistics
        • Table Israel - Active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2010 - 2018
        • Table Israel - 4G LTE adoption- 2016; 1H 2018
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Brief intro analogue networks
      • Digital networks
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Connection charges
      • Licensing
      • LTE Spectrum
      • Roaming
      • MTRs
      • Early termination fee reduction
      • MNP
      • Network sharing
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Jordan
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • KEY RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation
      • Privatisation
      • Interconnect
      • Access
      • Carrier PreSelection (CPS)
      • Taxes
      • Mobile regulatory issues
        • Table Jordan - Historical - Mobile Termination Rates - 2010 - 2014
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Jordan - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
        • Table Jordan - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2005 - 2019
      • SMS and MMS - historical
      • OTT messaging services
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Jordan - active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2010 - 2019
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Digital networks
    • IOT AND M2M NETWORKS
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Kuwait
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Privatisation
      • Infrastructure sharing
      • Interconnect
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Historic - Kuwait - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
        • Table Kuwait - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2013 - 2019
      • Mobile broadband
        • Table Kuwait - mobile broadband subscriptions - 2014 - 2019
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 5G
      • 4G (LTE)
      • GSM, 3G
      • Other infrastructure developments
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Third mobile operator
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Roaming tariff reduction
      • Spectrum refarming for LTE
      • Mobile tower management
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • m-banking (payments/loans)
      • OTT messaging services
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Lebanon
    • HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Background
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Lebanon
      • Privatisation
      • Mobile regulatory issues
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table Lebanon - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
      • Table Lebanon - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2005 - 2019
    • MOBILE DATA
      • OTT messaging services
      • M2M
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Lebanon - active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2011 - 2019
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • GSM, 3G
      • 4G LTE
      • 5G
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Oman
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Revision of the telecommunication regulatory law - 2011-2015
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Oman
      • Privatisation
      • Interconnect
      • Access
      • Universal Service Obligation (USO)
      • Royalty fees
      • Competition issues
      • Market competitiveness report
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Oman - Historic mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
        • Table Oman - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2005 - 2019
        • Table Oman - mobile sector total ARPU - 2005 - 2018
      • Mobile voice
        • Table Oman - total prepaid and post-paid subscribers - 2005 - 2018
      • Mobile data
        • Table Oman - SMS messages - 2010 - 2018
        • Table Oman - MMS messages - 2010 - 2018
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Oman - Active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2008 - 2019
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Second mobile licence
      • Third mobile licence
      • Reseller/MVNO licences
      • Roaming
      • MNP
      • Spectrum allocation
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 5G
      • 4G LTE, LTE-A
      • GSM, 3G
      • M2M
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Qatar
    • HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • KEY RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Qatar
      • Privatisation
      • Interconnect
      • Access
      • Wholesale transmission
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Qatar - historic - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
        • Table Qatar - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2005 - 2019
        • Table Qatar - mobile subscription and penetration forecast - 2020 - 2024
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Qatar - Active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2008 - 2019
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • New executive powers
      • Second mobile licence
      • Mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)
      • Roaming tariff reduction
      • NP
      • Spectrum
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 5G
        • Table Qatar - Key Performance Indicators for 5G Market Potential - Existing mobile infrastructure coverage and active mobile broadband penetration - 2014 – 2017
      • 4G LTE
      • GSM, 3G
      • Satellite mobile
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • M-commerce
      • Mobile messaging
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
  • Saudi Arabia
    • MARKET OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
      • Universal Licenses
        • Table Saudi Arabia - mobile, fixed-line and total telecoms revenue of service providers - 2001 – 2016
        • Table Saudi Arabia - Fixed telephone teledensity and mobile subscriber penetration - 2012 – 2019
      • Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation
      • Data service provider licences
      • Fixed-line licences
      • New satellite broadband license
      • Interconnect and access
      • Number Portability (NP)
      • Universal service
    • MOBILE MARKET OVERVIEW
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Saudi Arabia - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2014
        • Table Saudi Arabia - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2015 - 2019
      • Mobile voice
        • Table Saudi Arabia - prepaid subscribers - 2002 - Q3 2018
      • Mobile data
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Saudi Arabia - mobile broadband subscriptions - technologies and penetration - 2010 – 2019
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Award of second GSM mobile licence
      • iDEN contract awarded
      • Award of Third Generation (3G) licences
      • Award of third mobile licence
      • Mobile license extensions 2016
      • Roaming
      • MTRs
      • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
      • Fingerprinting law
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • GSM, 3G
      • LTE, LTE-A
      • Satellite mobile
      • 5G
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • M-banking and m-payments
  • Syria
    • HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MARKET CHALLENGES
    • EMERGENCY TELECOMMUNICATIONS CLUSTER (ETC)
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Syria
      • Interconnect
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table Syria - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1999 - 2019
    • MOBILE VOICE
      • Prepaid
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Syria - mobile broadband subscribers and penetration - 2005 - 2019
    • REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Third mobile licence
      • Current BOT contracts/Long term free hold licenses
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 4G LTE
      • 3G
      • GSM
      • Satellite mobile
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • m-payments
  • Turkey
    • MARKET HISTORY
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Recent developments
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation in Turkey
      • Privatisation
      • Interconnect
      • Access
      • Number Portability (NP)
      • Universal services
      • Tax levies
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • General statistics
        • Table Historic - Turkey - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2004
        • Table Turkey - mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2005 - 2019
        • Table Turkey - historical - breakdown of mobile revenue - 2008 - Q1 2016
      • Mobile voice
        • Table Turkey - ratio of prepaid to postpaid subscribers - 2000 - Q1 2018
      • SMS and MMS
      • Mobile broadband statistics
        • Table Turkey - active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2009 - 2019
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • Overview (recent general laws and regulations)
      • Third Generation (3G) licences
      • Third and fourth GSM licences
      • Significant market power (SMP)
      • MTRs
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • Telsim privatisation
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 5G
      • 4G, LTE
        • Table Turkey - 2G; 3G; 4G subscribers - 2009 - Q3 2017
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • Mobile apps
      • Mobile payments
  • United Arab Emirates
    • HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
      • Table UAE - telecommunications revenue - 2007 - 2016
    • KEY RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Historic overview
      • Regulatory authority
      • Draft bill for new authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation
      • Interconnect and access
      • Fibre access
      • Number Portability (NP)
      • Royalty payments
      • Censorship
      • Roaming tariff reduction
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table UAE - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2007
      • Table UAE - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2005 - 2019
      • Table UAE - historical - mobile revenue and ARPU - 2008 - 2015
      • Table UAE - historical - prepaid vs postpaid revenue - 2008 - 2015
    • MOBILE VOICE
      • Prepaid
        • Table UAE - prepaid subscribers - 2005 - 2018
    • MOBILE DATA
      • SMS and MMS
        • Table UAE - historical - SMS and MMS sent - 2007 - 2015
      • OTT messaging services
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table UAE - mobile broadband subscribers and penetration - 2010 - 2019
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Brief intro analogue networks
      • Digital networks
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • M-commerce
      • M-payments
    • MOBILE HANDSETS
      • Table UAE - handset manufacturers' market share - 2013; 2015; 2017
  • Yemen
    • HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • KEY INDUSTRY CONSIDERATIONS
    • REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
      • Regulatory authority
      • Telecom sector liberalisation
      • Privatisation
      • Internet governance
    • MOBILE MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table Yemen - mobile subscriptions and penetration - 2013 - 2019
    • MOBILE BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Yemen - active mobile broadband subscriptions - 2011 - 2017
    • MOBILE REGULATORY ISSUES
      • GSM licences awarded
      • Third GSM licence
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE

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