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Middle Eastern Digital Media, Broadband and Internet Market

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the broadband, Internet, and convergence markets in the Middle East. Subjects covered include:

  • Internet and broadband statistics
  • Government policies and regulatory issues
  • Broadband technologies
  • Convergence and triple play models
  • Satellite and pay TV market trends
  • Digital media developments.


This Middle East market report covers the Digital Media, Broadband and Internet markets in each of the following countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE and Yemen.  

Internet and broadband penetration rates remain low in many countries of the Middle East, access speeds are often relatively slow and tariffs are relatively high compared with other regions in the world but the region is making a strong push towards higher broadband penetration. The young population will be a driver for growth as they grow up with Internet use as the norm. In addition liberalisation and increased competition are producing a greater variety of services and mediums.

  While broadband growth has taken off in the small, oil-rich and developed countries of the Gulf, wide income disparities across the Arab Middle East region as a whole are echoed by wide disparities in Internet and broadband penetration rates. Computer penetration levels are generally low. Qatar, Bahrain and UAE all have high household broadband penetration, particularly among nationals. The largest country in the region, Saudi Arabia, has low broadband penetration but it is rising quickly.  

ADSL is the prevailing broadband Internet technology in the region. Only in Israel does cable have a significant market share. Services are provided by HOT Cable Systems Media, which is subject to the same broadband universal service obligations as is DSL network operator Bezeq. This has resulted in broadband being available to 99% of all households. Much is being promised by WiMAX across the Middle East region but projects have still to come to fruition.

  All the GCC and Israeli operators, with the exception of recently launched Vodafone Qatar, offer HSPA mobile broadband services. Mobile broadband prices in most countries remain relatively high but the introduction of some affordable, flat-rate pricing plans has encouraged higher take-up rates. Saudi Arabia’s second mobile operator, Mobily, said it could not cope with the level of demand when it introduced flat-rate price plans. It claimed to have 600,000 subscribers in June 2009. This subscriber number is very high when compared with a total of just over 1 million Saudi ADSL subscribers at end-2008.

  One of the reasons for slow Internet and broadband subscriber growth in Arab Middle East countries has been a lack of sufficient content in Arabic for users to need a high-speed broadband connection in their daily lives. There has been too much emphasis on hardware and the latest must-have gizmo and not enough on creativity. This is beginning to change with the increasing digital content produced by the flourishing Direct-to-Home satellite TV sector, including entertainment, educational programming, news and sports. At least 60-70% of homes across the Middle East have access to multi-channel TV, much of it Free-to-Air DTH satellite. Around 70% of the 400+ channels are privately owned. 

  Key highlights: 

Egypt

Supported by forward-looking government programs, Egypt is well connected by several international submarine fibre optic cables in combination with a national fibre backbone infrastructure, and the international bandwidth market has been liberalised. The entire sector is highly competitive with more than 200 Internet and data service providers, which has led to low prices for ADSL services and broadband packages with up to 24Mb/s delivered to residential households. VoIP Internet telephony has been liberalised, and several companies are rolling out next-generation networks to provide converged IP-based voice and data services. The country’s three mobile network operators are entering the market with third generation mobile broadband systems, and each of them holds a controlling stake in a leading data and Internet service provider.  

Israel

Israel has one of the highest household broadband penetration rates in the world. Market competition is fierce, both between cable and DSL infrastructures and between ISPs. Competition is also fierce between Bezeq’s satellite TV subsidiary YES and cable TV operator HOT. Israel’s very high broadband penetration rate provides great potential for triple play and digital media market developments and competitors are manoeuvring for position. New licences being granted for VoIP service provision are beginning to shake up the market.

  Jordan

Licensed WiMAX operators are beginning to make inroads into the Jordanian broadband market with over 8% market share of the residential market by early 2009, although incumbent JTG’s ISP retains a 50% market share. JTG has reduced its wholesale prices considerably, with a 70% reduction from the beginning of 2007 to June 2009. As one of the most stable and liberalised countries in the region, Jordan is an important base for digital media and Internet companies. The Jordan-based Maktoob portal was the subject of a purchase agreement by Yahoo! in August 2009. Services will be co-branded as ‘Yahoo! Maktoob’ and Arabic versions of Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Mail will be available early in 2010.  

Saudi Arabia

The broadband market has been slow to grow in Saudi Arabia. Penetration rates remain low for the level of development. This is likely to change as new competitors in the broadband market have shown they intend to make a serious bid for market share. Whilst few Middle East media companies are based in Saudi Arabia, most of the larger ones are Saudi owned, including the most watched FTA channel MBC, two out of the three regional satellite pay TV operators, and up and coming TV and digital media company Rotana.

  UAE

Incumbent UAE telco Etisalat and alternative operator du are vying to offer faster broadband packages over a mixture of ADSL, mobile broadband and FttH in a market that already has one of the highest broadband penetration rates in the Middle East. UAE governments, at both federal and emirate level, have been very interventionist, with programs to encourage computer and Internet use. Government policy has also included encouragement for media, IT and Internet related businesses and Dubai has become a regional centre for the industry. Around 25% of the region’s large DTH satellite TV industry is headquartered in the UAE.  

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

1. Overview Middle Eastern Digital Media, Broadband & Internet Market
1.1 Broadband and Internet market
1.1.1 Overview
1.1.2 Internet statistics
1.1.3 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
1.1.4 Cable modems
1.1.5 Wireless broadband
1.2 Convergence
1.2.1 Triple play
1.2.2 VoIP
1.3 Digital media
1.3.1 Overview
1.3.2 Broadcasting overview
1.3.3 Terrestrial TV
1.3.4 Satellite TV
1.3.5 Cable TV
1.3.6 Pay TV
1.3.7 IPTV
1.4 Digital content
1.4.1 Outside interest
1.4.2 TV content
1.4.3 E-commerce
1.4.4 Rotana Group
1.4.5 Maktoob Group
1.4.6 Walla! Communications Ltd
1.4.7 Tejari
1.4.8 E-government
1.4.9 E-learning
1.4.10 User Generated Content (UGC)
2. Bahrain
2.1 Internet market
2.1.1 Overview
2.1.2 Internet statistics
2.1.3 Bahrain’s ISP market
2.1.4 Internet Exchange
2.2 Broadband market
2.2.1 Overview
2.2.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
2.2.3 Wireless broadband
2.3 Convergence
2.3.1 Overview of media convergence
2.3.2 VoIP
2.3.3 Triple play
2.4 Digital media
2.4.1 Satellite TV
2.5 Digital economy
2.5.1 Internet economy
2.5.2 E-government
3. Egypt
3.1 Internet market
3.1.1 Overview
3.1.2 Internet statistics
3.1.3 Free Internet project
3.1.4 Affordable Personal Computer (APC) programs
3.1.5 E-schools
3.1.6 Public Internet access locations
3.1.7 ISP and data service providers in Egypt
3.2 Broadband market
3.2.1 Broadband statistics
3.2.2 Broadband initiative
3.2.3 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
3.2.4 Wireless broadband
3.2.5 Broadband via satellite
3.2.6 Broadband over Powerlines (BPL)
3.2.7 Forecasts - broadband subscribers - 2010; 2015
3.3 Convergence
3.3.1 VoIP telephony
3.3.2 Next Generation Networks (NGNs)
3.3.3 IPTV
3.4 Digital economy
3.4.1 E-Commerce
3.4.2 Information Highway Project
3.4.3 E-government
3.4.4 E-learning
4. Iran
4.1 Internet market
4.1.1 Internet overview
4.1.2 Internet statistics
4.1.3 ISP market
4.1.4 Internet cafes
4.1.5 Censorship
4.2 Broadband market
4.2.1 Broadband statistics
4.2.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
4.2.3 Internet via satellite (Ka band services)
4.3 Convergence
4.3.1 Overview of media convergence
4.3.2 VoIP
4.4 Digital media
4.4.1 Overview
4.4.2 Overview of broadcasting market
4.4.3 Satellite TV
5. Iraq
5.1 Broadband and Internet market
5.1.1 Internet overview
5.1.2 Internet statistics
5.1.3 Wireless broadband
6. Israel
6.1 Internet Market
6.1.1 Internet overview
6.1.2 Internet statistics
6.1.3 Israel’s ISP market
6.1.4 Internet content
6.1.5 Walla! Communications Ltd
6.2 Broadband Market
6.2.1 ADSL and cable networks
6.2.2 WiFi
6.2.3 WiMAX
6.3 Convergence and Digital Media
6.3.1 Overview of media convergence
6.3.2 Triple play models
6.3.3 VoIP/VoB
6.3.4 Overview of the broadcasting market
6.3.5 Regulatory issues
6.3.6 Digital TV
7. Jordan
7.1 Internet market
7.1.1 Internet overview
7.1.2 Internet statistics
7.1.3 Government initiatives
7.1.4 ISP market
7.2 Broadband market
7.2.1 Broadband statistics
7.2.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
7.2.3 Wireless broadband
7.3 Convergence
7.3.1 Overview of media convergence
7.3.2 VoIP and Triple Play
7.4 Digital media
7.4.1 Broadcasting market overview
7.4.2 IPTV
7.5 Digital economy
7.5.1 E-commerce
8. Kuwait
8.1 Broadband and Internet market
8.1.1 Internet overview
8.1.2 Internet statistics
8.1.3 ISP market
8.1.4 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
8.1.5 Broadband statistics
8.1.6 Wireless broadband
8.2 Convergence
8.2.1 Overview of media convergence
8.2.2 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
8.3 Digital media
8.3.1 Overview of broadcasting market
8.4 Digital economy
8.4.1 Internet economy
9. Lebanon
9.1 Internet market
9.1.1 Internet overview
9.1.2 Internet statistics
9.1.3 Data service providers
9.1.4 ISP market
9.2 Broadband market
9.2.1 Overview
9.2.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
9.2.3 Cable modems
9.2.4 Wireless broadband
9.3 Convergence
9.3.1 Overview of media convergence
9.3.2 Triple play
9.3.3 VoIP
9.4 Digital media
9.4.1 Overview of broadcasting market
9.4.2 Digital TV
10. Oman
10.1 Internet market
10.1.1 Internet overview
10.1.2 Internet statistics
10.1.3 Leased lines
10.2 Broadband market
10.2.1 Broadband statistics
10.2.2 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
10.2.3 Wireless broadband
10.3 Broadcasting
10.3.1 Overview
10.4 Digital economy
10.4.1 Overview
10.4.2 E-learning
10.4.3 E-commerce
10.4.4 E-government
11. Qatar
11.1 Internet market
11.1.1 Internet overview
11.1.2 Internet statistics
11.2 Broadband market
11.2.1 Broadband overview
11.2.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
11.2.3 Wireless Broadband
11.3 Convergence
11.3.1 Triple play
11.3.2 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
11.4 Digital media
11.4.1 Overview of broadcasting market
11.4.2 Al Jazeera
11.4.3 IPTV
11.4.4 E-government
11.4.5 E-health
12. Saudi Arabia
12.1 Internet market
12.1.1 Internet overview
12.1.2 Censorship
12.1.3 Internet statistics
12.1.4 ISP market
12.2 Digital economy
12.2.1 E-commerce
12.2.2 E-learning
12.2.3 E-health
12.2.4 E-government
12.3 Broadband market
12.3.1 Overview
12.3.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
12.3.3 Broadband powerline (BPL)
12.3.4 Wireless broadband
12.4 Digital media
12.4.1 Overview of broadcasting market
13. Syria
13.1 Internet market
13.1.1 Internet overview
13.1.2 Censorship
13.1.3 Internet statistics
13.1.4 ISP market
13.2 Broadband and Internet market
13.2.1 Overview
13.2.2 Wireless Broadband
13.3 Convergence
13.3.1 Overview of media convergence
13.3.2 Overview of broadcasting market
14. Turkey
14.1 Internet market
14.1.1 Internet overview
14.1.2 Internet statistics
14.1.3 ISP market
14.2 Broadband market
14.2.1 Overview
14.2.2 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
14.2.3 Cable modems
14.2.4 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) networks
14.2.5 Wireless broadband
14.2.6 Forecasts - broadband Internet services - 2008 - 2013; 2018
14.3 Digital media
14.3.1 Overview of broadcasting market
14.3.2 Broadcasting regulation
14.3.3 Digital TV
14.4 Digital economy
14.4.1 Turkey’s emerging Internet economy
14.4.2 E-commerce
14.4.3 E-government
14.4.4 E-education
15. United Arab Emirates
15.1 Internet market
15.1.1 Internet overview
15.1.2 Censorship and site blocking
15.1.3 Dubai Internet City (DIC)
15.1.4 Internet Statistics
15.1.5 Internet access locations
15.1.6 ISP market
15.2 Broadband market
15.2.1 Overview
15.2.2 Fibre to the Home (FttH)
15.2.3 Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
15.2.4 Cable modems
15.2.5 Wireless broadband
15.3 Convergence
15.3.1 Triple play
15.3.2 VoIP
15.4 Digital media
15.4.1 Overview of broadcasting market
15.4.2 Digital TV
15.5 Digital economy
15.5.1 Overview
15.5.2 E-government
16. Yemen
16.1 Internet market
16.1.1 Internet overview
16.1.2 Internet statistics
16.1.3 Internet access locations
16.2 Broadband market
16.2.1 Broadband statistics
16.2.2 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
16.3 Broadcasting
16.3.1 Overview
17. Glossary of Abbreviations
List of tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Broadband subscribers and household penetration in Israel - 2001 - 2008
Table 2 - Broadband networks subscribers, annual change and market share in Israel - 2005 - 2009
Table 3 - Broadband household penetration in Arabian Gulf countries - 2008
Table 4 - Internet users, penetration rate and growth in the Middle East - 2008
Table 5 - Broadband subscribers by access technology in Turkey - 2004 - 2008
Table 6 - 3G subscribers as a percentage of total subscribers - selected countries - 2006 - 2008
Table 7 - Israeli mobile operators - data and content revenue as a percentage of total revenue - 2003 - 2008
Table 8 - Qtel triple play subscribers in Qatar - 2008 - 2009
Table 9 - Broadcasting market statistical overview - Israel - 2008
Table 10 - Internet users and penetration estimates in Bahrain - 1995 - 2008
Table 11 - Internet subscribers in Bahrain - 1999 - 2008
Table 12 - Dial-up Internet subscribers in Bahrain - 2005 - 2008
Table 13 - Broadband subscribers in Bahrain - 2005 - 2008
Table 14 - Broadband subscribers by access method in Bahrain - 2004 - 2008
Table 15 - Market share of Internet and broadband by access method in Bahrain - 2004 - 2008
Table 16 - Broadband subscribers by access speed in Bahrain - 2007 - 2008
Table 17 - Business broadband subscribers by access method in Bahrain - 2004 - 2008
Table 18 - Broadband monthly ARPU in Bahrain - 2007 - 2008
Table 19 - Household fixed broadband penetration rates in Bahrain - 2007 - 2008
Table 20 - Internet users and penetration rate in Egypt - 1995; 1997; 1999 - 2008
Table 21 - Broadband statistics in Egypt - 2008
Table 22 - DSL subscribers in Egypt - 2002 - 2008
Table 23 - Forecast broadband subscribers in Egypt - 2010; 2015
Table 24 - Internet users and penetration estimates in Iran - 1996 - 2008
Table 25 - Internet subscribers in Iran - 1999 - 2008
Table 26 - Broadband statistics in Iran - 2008
Table 27 - ADSL subscribers in Iran - 2000 - 2008
Table 28 - Internet user and subscriber estimates in Iraq - 2001 - 2009
Table 29 - Internet user statistics in Iraq - 2008
Table 30 - Internet users, penetration & household penetration estimates in Israel - 1997 - 2008
Table 31 - ISP market shares in Israel - 2005 - 2008
Table 32 - Walla! Communications revenue and profit - 2005 - 2009
Table 33 - Broadband subscribers, annual change & household penetration in Israel - 2001 - 2009
Table 34 - ADSL & cable networks - subscribers & market share in Israel - 2005 - 2009
Table 35 - Bezeq ADSL subscriber ARPU - 2005 - 2009
Table 36 - NetVision broadband subscribers - 2006 - 2008
Table 37 - 012 Smile VoIP lines - 2006 - 2008
Table 38 - Broadcasting market statistical overview in Israel - 2008
Table 39 - YES satellite TV subscribers, market share and ARPU - 2002 - 2009
Table 40 - Internet users and penetration rate in Jordan - 1995 - 2008
Table 41 - Internet subscribers and penetration rate in Jordan - 1999 - 2008
Table 42 - Broadband statistics in Jordan - 2008
Table 43 - DSL subscribers in Jordan - 2001 - 2008
Table 44 - JRTVC revenue - 2005 - 2007
Table 45 - Internet user and penetration estimates in Kuwait - 1995 - 2008
Table 46 - Internet subscribers in Kuwait - 2003 - 2008
Table 47 - Broadband DSL subscribers in Kuwait - 2001 - 2008
Table 48 - Internet user and penetration estimates in Lebanon - 1995 - 2008
Table 49 - Internet subscribers in Lebanon - 2001 - 2008
Table 50 - ADSL subscribers in Lebanon - 2008 - 2009
Table 51 - Cable modem Internet subscribers in Lebanon - 2002 - 2008
Table 52 - Internet users and penetration estimates in Oman - 1998 - 2009
Table 53 - Internet subscribers in Oman - 2000 - 2009
Table 54 - Internet sector ARPU in Oman - 2005 - 2009
Table 7 - Leased line subscribers in Oman - 2004 - 2009
Table 11 - ADSL subscribers in Oman - 2005 - 2009
Table 55 - Internet users and penetration estimates in Qatar - 1999 - 2009
Table 56 - Internet subscribers in Qatar - 1999 - 2009
Table 57 - Broadband statistics in Qatar - March 2009
Table 58 - ADSL subscribers in Qatar - 2003 - 2009
Table 59 - Qtel triple play subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 60 - Qtel cable TV subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 61 - Internet users and penetration estimates in Saudi Arabia - 1995 - 2008
Table 62 - Internet subscribers in Saudi Arabia - 2000 - 2008
Table 63 - Broadband statistics in Saudi Arabia - 2008
Table 64 - DSL subscribers in Saudi Arabia - 2001 - 2008
Table 65 - Mobily mobile broadband subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 66 - Internet user and penetration rate estimates in Syria - 1999 - 2008
Table 67 - Internet subscribers and penetration rate in Syria - 1999 - 2008
Table 68 - Broadband subscribers in Syria - 2004 - 2008
Table 69 - Internet users and penetration rate in Turkey - 1998 - 2008
Table 70 - Internet subscribers and penetration rate in Turkey - 2003 - 2008
Table 71 - Broadband subscribers and penetration in Turkey - 2001 - 2008
Table 72 - Broadband subscribers by access technology in Turkey - 2004 - 2008
Table 73 - Turk Telekom ADSL ARPU - 2007 - 2008
Table 74 - Broadband market shares in Turkey - 2007 - 2008
Table 75 - Forecast broadband subscribers - higher market growth scenario in Turkey - 2008 - 2013; 2018
Table 76 - Forecast broadband subscribers - lower market growth scenario in Turkey - 2008 - 2013; 2018
Table 77 - Advertising spending and annual growth by media segment in Turkey - 2007
Table 78 - Audience share by channel in Turkey - 2006 - 2007
Table 79 - Electronic certificate & mobile electronic certificate ownership in Turkey - 2005 - 2008
Table 80 - Internet user and penetration estimates in UAE - 1995 - 2008
Table 81 - Internet subscribers: Etisalat and total - 2000 - 2009
Table 82 - Dial-up Internet subscribers in UAE - 2000 - 2008
Table 83 - Broadband subscribers by operator in UAE - 2000 - 2009
Table 84 - Broadband statistics in UAE - 2008
Table 85 - du IPTV subscribers - 2008 - 2009
Table 86 - Internet user and penetration estimates in Yemen - 1997 - 2008
Table 87 - Internet subscribers in Yemen - 2001 - 2008
Table 88 - Broadband subscribers in Yemen - 2008
Table 89 - ADSL subscribers in Yemen - 2007 - 2008
Exhibit 1 - Overview of media convergence
Exhibit 2 - Data service provider licences in Egypt and year of issue

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