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2008 Middle East - Telecoms Mobile & Broadband in The Gulf Countries

This annual report offers a wealth of information on trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, Internet, broadband in the Gulf countries of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major Players, Revenues, Subscribers, ARPU;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile Voice and Data Markets;
  • Broadband (DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media.


"BuddeComm’s latest Middle East Annual Publication, ‘2007 Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in the Gulf countries of the Middle East’, profiles the wealthy countries of the GCC, strife-torn Iraq, very poor Yemen and the regulated market of Iran.

There has been a change in atmosphere regarding broadband in the Gulf region over the past year. Internet and broadband penetration rates remain low in many countries, access speeds are relatively slow and tariffs are relatively high compared with other regions in the world, but the wealthier countries are making a strong push to follow in the UAE’s footsteps towards higher broadband penetration.

The mobile market is already very well developed in the wealthier countries of the region. 3G services are widely available. In the more developed markets customers want the latest in high-end handsets and have the income to pay for them.

Several local operators with deep pockets have grown enormously through buying operators and licences, with interests across the Middle East and extending into Africa and West Asia. Three operators are vying for supremacy: Etisalat of the UAE, most of whose subsidiaries are in Africa, MTC of Kuwait and, more recently, Qtel of Qatar. Batelco of Bahrain has also joined the fray but is not yet on the scale of the other three.

This report presents a concise overview of sector liberalisation and privatisation in the region, the development of product offerings for both mobile and broadband technologies, essential operator statistics in all telecom sectors, and the emergence of convergence and triple play.

Key Highlights

Bahrain has much the most liberalised market in the region. Numerous alternative operators mostly offering prepaid VoIP-based calling cards have had a large impact on the fixed-line market (and on Batelco’s international call revenues). In addition two WiMAX licences were issued in early 2007 to alternative operator Mena Telecom and second mobile operator MTC Vodafone Bahrain. Incumbent Batelco failed to win a licence.
Elsewhere VoIP services are generally banned, a particularly contentious issue in the UAE.
Broadband growth has taken off in the Gulf countries, Broadband subscribers in Qatar increased nearly 100% during 2006. Subscriber numbers increased by over 50% in Bahrain.
The UAE has also seen a further 50% growth in broadband subscriber numbers from its already very high household penetration rates of around 60%.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE have some of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world and continue to show surprisingly strong growth going into 2007.
Mobile penetration has increased dramatically quickly in Iraq but the deteriorating security situation appears to have put a break on growth by mid-2007.
All countries in the region with the single exception of Qatar (which plans to issue a second licence by end-2007) now have at least two mobile operators. Qatar plans to issue a second licence by end-2007.

Mobile growth in Iran is very high since the launch of a second national operator, Irancell, in September 2006, after a difficult path to launch. Prepaid services were launched for the first time in early 2007.

Some very large prices have been paid for mobile licences in the region but the payment in May 2007 by MTC of US$6.1 billion for a third mobile licence in Saudi Arabia has beaten all records.
Qtel was the first regional operator to trial DVB-H in 2006. Both UAE operators offer mobile TV services.

By mid-2007 well over 300 FTA satellite channels competed for viewers across the Middle East North Africa region. Channel numbers grew by over 50% in the previous year and doubled over the previous two years. Around 75% are privately owned. Many operate out of Dubai in the UAE.

Gulf countries mobile penetration and annual growth - 2007

Country Penetration Annual Growth
Bahrain 140% 23%
Iran 24% 96
Iraq 34% 104%
Kuwait 103% 6%
Oman 70% 34%
Qatar 127% 35%
Saudi Arabia 74% 49%
UAE 134% 21%
Yemen 14% 47%

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

For those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on this region, this report is essential reading and gives further information on:

Government policies affecting the telecoms industry;
Telecoms operators - new licences, acquisitions and competition;
Internet and broadband development and growth;
The fast growing mobile markets of the region;
Mobile application and content developments.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year. "

1. BAHRAIN
1.1 Key statistics
1.2 Telecommunications market
1.2.1 Overview of Bahrain’s telecom market
1.3 Regulatory environment
1.3.1 Background
1.3.2 Regulatory authority
1.3.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Bahrain
1.3.4 Interconnect
1.3.5 Access
1.3.6 Number portability
1.3.7 Carrier preselection
1.4 Fixed network operators in Bahrain
1.4.1 Bahrain telecommunications company (Batelco)
1.4.2 Alternative operators
1.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
1.5.1 National telecom network
1.5.2 International infrastructure
1.6 Broadband and Internet market
1.6.1 Overview
1.6.2 Broadband overview
1.6.3 ADSL
1.6.4 Wireless broadband
1.6.5 Internet economy
1.7 Convergence
1.7.1 Overview of media convergence
1.7.2 VoIP
1.7.3 Triple play
1.7.4 Overview of broadcasting market
1.8 Mobile communications
1.8.1 Overview of Bahrain’s mobile market
1.8.2 Regulatory issues
1.8.3 Mobile technologies
1.8.4 Major mobile operators
1.8.5 Mobile voice services
1.8.6 Mobile data services
1.8.7 Mobile content
2. IRAN
2.1 Key statistics
2.2 Telecommunications market
2.2.1 Overview of Iran’s telecom market
2.3 Regulatory environment
2.3.1 Background
2.3.2 The fourth five-year development plan (2005 - 2010)
2.3.3 Regulatory authority
2.4 Fixed network operator in Iran
2.4.1 Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI)
2.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
2.5.1 National telecom network
2.5.2 International infrastructure
2.6 Broadband and Internet market
2.6.1 Overview
2.6.2 ADSL
2.6.3 Wireless Broadband
2.7 Convergence
2.7.1 Overview of media convergence
2.7.2 VoIP
2.7.3 Overview of broadcasting market
2.7.4 Satellite TV
2.8 Mobile communications
2.8.1 Overview of Iran’s mobile market
2.8.2 Regulatory issues
2.8.3 Major mobile operators
2.8.4 Mobile voice services
2.8.5 Mobile data services
3. IRAQ
3.1 Key statistics
3.2 Telecommunications market
3.2.1 Overview of Iraq’s telecom market
3.3 Regulatory environment
3.3.1 Background
3.3.2 Regulatory authority
3.3.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Iraq
3.4 Fixed network operator in Iraq
3.4.1 Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC)
3.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
3.5.1 National telephone network
3.5.2 International infrastructure
3.6 Broadband and Internet market
3.6.1 Overview
3.6.2 Wireless broadband
3.7 Convergence
3.7.1 Overview of media convergence
3.7.2 Overview of broadcasting market
3.8 Mobile communications
3.8.1 Overview of Iraq’s mobile market
3.8.2 Regulatory issues
3.8.3 Mobile technologies
3.8.4 Major mobile operators
3.8.5 Other mobile operators
3.8.6 Mobile voice services
3.8.7 Mobile data
4. KUWAIT
4.1 Key statistics
4.2 Telecommunications market
4.2.1 Overview of Kuwait’s telecom market
4.3 Regulatory environment
4.3.1 Background
4.3.2 Regulatory authority
4.3.3 Privatisation of Mobile Telecommunications Co
4.4 Fixed network operator in Kuwait
4.4.1 Ministry of Communications
4.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
4.5.1 National telecom network
4.5.2 International infrastructure
4.5.3 Infrastructure developments
4.6 Broadband and Internet market
4.6.1 Overview
4.6.2 ISP market
4.6.3 ADSL
4.6.4 Wireless broadband
4.7 Convergence
4.7.1 Overview of media convergence
4.7.2 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
4.7.3 Overview of broadcasting market
4.8 Mobile communications
4.8.1 Overview of Kuwait’s mobile market
4.8.2 Regulatory issues
4.8.3 Mobile technologies
4.8.4 Major mobile operators
4.8.5 Mobile voice services
4.8.6 Mobile data services
4.8.7 Mobile content and applications
5. OMAN
5.1 Key statistics
5.2 Telecommunications market
5.2.1 Overview of Oman’s telecom market
5.3 Regulatory environment
5.3.1 Background
5.3.2 Regulatory authority
5.3.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Oman
5.3.4 Privatisation
5.3.5 Interconnect
5.3.6 Number Portability (NP)
5.3.7 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
5.4 Fixed network operator in Oman
5.4.1 Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel)
5.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
5.5.1 National telecom network
5.5.2 International infrastructure
5.6 Broadband and Internet market
5.6.1 Overview
5.6.2 Leased lines
5.6.3 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
5.6.4 Wireless broadband
5.7 Convergence
5.7.1 Overview
5.7.2 Overview of broadcasting market
5.8 Mobile communications
5.8.1 Overview of Oman’s mobile market
5.8.2 Regulatory issues
5.8.3 Mobile technologies
5.8.4 Major mobile operators
5.8.5 Mobile voice services
5.8.6 Mobile data services
5.8.7 Mobile content and applications
6. QATAR
6.1 Key statistics
6.2 Telecommunications market
6.2.1 Overview of Qatar’s telecom market
6.3 Regulatory environment
6.3.1 Background
6.3.2 Regulatory authority
6.3.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Qatar
6.3.4 Privatisation
6.4 Fixed network operator in Qatar
6.4.1 Qtel
6.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
6.5.1 National telecom network
6.5.2 International infrastructure
6.6 Broadband and Internet market
6.6.1 Overview
6.6.2 ADSL broadband
6.6.3 Wireless Broadband
6.7 Convergence
6.7.1 Overview of media convergence
6.7.2 Triple play
6.7.3 IPTV
6.7.4 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
6.7.5 Overview of broadcasting market
6.7.6 Al Jazeera
6.8 Mobile communications
6.8.1 Overview of Qatar’s mobile market
6.8.2 Mobile technologies
6.8.3 Major mobile operator
6.8.4 Mobile voice services
6.8.5 Mobile data services
6.8.6 Mobile content and applications
7. SAUDI ARABIA
7.1 Key statistics
7.2 Telecommunications market
7.2.1 Overview of Saudi Arabia’s telecom market
7.3 Regulatory environment
7.3.1 Background
7.3.2 Regulatory authority
7.3.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Saudi Arabia
7.3.4 Privatisation
7.3.5 Interconnect and access
7.3.6 Number Portability (NP)
7.3.7 Universal service
7.4 Fixed network operators in Saudi Arabia
7.4.1 Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
7.4.2 ITC
7.4.3 Bayanat Al-Oula
7.4.4 Saudi Oger
7.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
7.5.1 National telecom network
7.5.2 International infrastructure
7.6 Broadband and Internet market
7.6.1 Overview
7.6.2 ISP market
7.6.3 Broadband market overview
7.6.4 DSL
7.6.5 Broadband powerline (BPL)
7.6.6 Leased lines
7.6.7 Wireless broadband
7.7 Convergence
7.7.1 Overview of media convergence
7.7.2 Overview of broadcasting market
7.8 Mobile communications
7.8.1 Overview of Saudi Arabia’s mobile market
7.8.2 Regulatory issues
7.8.3 Mobile technologies
7.8.4 Major mobile operators
7.8.5 Mobile voice services
7.8.6 Mobile data services
7.8.7 Mobile applications
8. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
8.1 Key statistics
8.2 Telecommunications market
8.2.1 Overview of UAE’s telecom market
8.2.2 Market analysis - 2007
8.3 Regulatory environment
8.3.1 Background
8.3.2 Regulatory authority
8.3.3 Liberalisation
8.3.4 VoIP prohibited
8.4 Telecom operators in UAE
8.4.1 Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat)
8.4.2 Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company / du
8.4.3 TECOM Investments / Dubai Holding
8.4.4 Mubadala Development Company
8.4.5 UAE investment companies owning telcos outside the UAE
8.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
8.5.1 National telecom networks
8.5.2 Infrastructure developments
8.5.3 International infrastructure
8.6 Broadband and Internet market
8.6.1 Overview
8.6.2 Internet access locations
8.6.3 ISP market
8.6.4 Broadband market overview
8.6.5 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
8.6.6 Cable modems
8.6.7 Wireless broadband
8.6.8 Internet economy
8.7 Convergence
8.7.1 Overview of media convergence
8.7.2 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
8.7.3 Overview of broadcasting market
8.7.4 Digital TV
8.8 Mobile communications
8.8.1 Overview of UAE’s mobile market
8.8.2 Regulatory issues
8.8.3 Mobile technologies
8.8.4 Major mobile operators
8.8.5 Mobile voice services
8.8.6 Mobile data services
8.8.7 Mobile content and applications
9. YEMEN
9.1 Key statistics
9.2 Telecommunications market
9.2.1 Overview of Yemen’s telecom market
9.3 Regulatory environment
9.3.1 Regulatory authority
9.3.2 Telecom sector liberalisation in Yemen
9.3.3 Privatisation
9.4 Fixed network operators in Yemen
9.4.1 TeleYemen / Yemen International Telecommunication Company
9.4.2 Public Telecommunications Corporation (PTC)
9.5 Telecommunications infrastructure
9.5.1 National telecom network
9.5.2 International infrastructure
9.6 Broadband and Internet market
9.6.1 Overview of the Internet in Yemen
9.6.2 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband
9.7 Mobile communications
9.7.1 Overview of Yemen’s mobile market
9.7.2 Regulatory issues
9.7.3 Major mobile operators
9.7.4 Mobile voice services
9.7.5 Mobile data services
10. GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS


Table 1 - Country statistics Bahrain - 2006
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - Oct 2006
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 4 - Broadband statistics - April 2007
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - 2006
Table 6 - National telecommunications authority
Table 7 - Batelco revenue, profit and group mobile subscribers - 2005 - 2006
Table 8 - Batelco revenue by division - 2005 - 2006
Table 9 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 10 - Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2005
Table 11 - Internet subscribers - 1999 - 2006
Table 12 - Batelco broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2007
Table 13 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2006
Table 14 - Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - December 2006
Table 15 - MTC-Vodafone Bahrain: Revenue, ARPU - 2005 - 2006
Table 16 - Prepaid mobile subscribers - 1999 - 2006
Table 17 - MTC prepaid subscribers - 2004 - 2006
Table 18 - Country statistics Iran - 2006
Table 19 - Telephone network statistics - February 2007
Table 20 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 21 - Mobile statistics - March 2007
Table 22 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 23 - Annual fixed-line objectives for the Fourth five year plan - 2005 - 2010
Table 24 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2007
Table 25 - Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 26 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2007
Table 27 - Mobile subscribers and annual growth by operator - December 2006
Table 28 - Country statistics Iraq - 2005
Table 29 - Telephone network statistics - 2006
Table 30 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 31 - Mobile statistics - 2006
Table 32 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 33 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1990 - 2006
Table 34 - Internet user estimates - 2001 - 2006
Table 35 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 2003 - 2006
Table 36 - Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - December 2006
Table 37 - Mobile operator market shares - September 2006
Table 38 - Mobile operator average ARPU - 2004 - 2006
Table 39 - Country statistics Kuwait - 2006
Table 40 - Telephone network statistics - 2006
Table 41 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 42 - Broadband statistics - 2006
Table 43 - Mobile statistics - 2006
Table 44 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 45 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 46 - Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 47 - Internet subscribers - 2003 - 2006
Table 48 - Broadband DSL subscribers - 2001 - 2006
Table 49 - TV market - TVs and satellites - 2000 - 2006
Table 50 - Mobile subscribers - 1994 - 2006
Table 51 - Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - December 2006
Table 52 - MTC Group subscribers, revenue and profit - 2004 - 2007
Table 53 - MTC Kuwait Revenue and ARPU - 2005 - 2006
Table 54 - MTC Prepaid subscribers - 2005 - 2006
Table 55 - Country statistics Oman - 2006
Table 56 - Telephone network statistics - March 2007
Table 57 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 58 - Broadband statistics - March 2007
Table 59 - Mobile statistics - March 2007
Table 60 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 61 - Omantel revenue, expenditure and fixed-line ARPU - 2003 - 2006
Table 62 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2007
Table 63 - Internet user and penetration estimates - 1998 - 2006
Table 64 - Internet subscribers - 2000 - 2007
Table 65 - Mobile subscribers - 1994 - 2007
Table 66 - Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - December 2006
Table 67 - Prepaid and postpaid subscribers - 2005 - 2007
Table 68 - Prepaid and postpaid subscribers by operator - June 2005
Table 69 - Country statistics Qatar - 2006
Table 70 - Telephone network statistics - 2006
Table 71 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 72 - Broadband statistics - 2006
Table 73 - Mobile statistics - March 2007
Table 74 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 75 - Qtel revenue and net profit - 2005 - 2006
Table 76 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 77 - Fixed-line household penetration - 2001 - 2006
Table 78 - Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 79 - Internet subscribers - 1999 - 2006
Table 80 - ADSL subscribers - 2003 - 2006
Table 81 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2007
Table 82 - Prepaid subscribers - 2000 - 2006
Table 83 -Prepaid subscribers as a percentage of total - 2002 - 2006
Table 84 - Country statistics Saudi Arabia - 2006
Table 85 - Telephone network statistics - 2006
Table 86 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 87 - Broadband statistics - March 2007
Table 88 - Mobile statistics - 2006
Table 89 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 90 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1994 - 2006
Table 91 - Internet users and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 92 - Internet subscribers - 2000 - 2006
Table 93 - DSL subscribers - 2001 - 2007
Table 94 - TV receivers and TV equipped households - 2000 - 2006
Table 95 - Mobile ARPU - 2005 - 2006
Table 96 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2006
Table 97 - Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - December 2006
Table 98 - Country statistics United Arab Emirates - 2006
Table 99 - Telephone network statistics - 2006
Table 100 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 101 - Broadband statistics - 2006
Table 102 - Mobile statistics - 2006
Table 103 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 104 - Etisalat revenues and divisional representation - 2005 - 2006
Table 105 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 106 - Internet user and penetration estimates - 1995 - 2006
Table 107 - Internet subscribers - 1995 - 2006
Table 108 - Dial-up Internet subscribers - 2001 - 2006
Table 109 - Broadband subscribers - 2000 - 2006
Table 110 - TV and cable TV market - 2000 - 2006
Table 111 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1995 - 2006
Table 112 - Mobile subscribers by operator - December 2006
Table 113 - Prepaid mobile subscribers - 2003 - 2005
Table 114 - Country statistics Yemen - 2006
Table 115 - Telephone network statistics - 2006
Table 116 - Internet user statistics - 2006
Table 117 - Mobile statistics - 2006
Table 118 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 119 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2006
Table 120 - Internet user and penetration estimates - 1996 - 2006
Table 121 - Internet subscribers - 2004 - 2006
Table 122 - Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - December 2006
Table 123 - Mobile subscribers and penetration - 1998 - 2006
Table 124 - SpaceTel ARPU per month - 2003 - 2006

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