Middle East - Fixed Broadband Market

Middle East - Fixed Broadband Market

  • November 2021 •
  • 281 pages •
  • Report ID: 3468617 •
  • Format: PDF
Middle Eastern countries expand fixed broadband infrastructure though national broadband plans

The Middle East presents a complex region for developing telecoms infrastructure. Many countries have financial resources from oil and gas to fund upgrades and expansions to networks, providing the region with one of the more sophisticated telecom sectors globally. Lacking such resources, Israel has instead relied on its technological prowess. Other countries, notably Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have been deeply affected by war and civil unrest, which have destroyed equipment and eroded the ability of telcos to offer reliable services. These conditions have also dissuaded investors from committing funds to these markets.

The various measures imposed during the pandemic to restrict travel, and to limit social mingling in environments such as workplaces and schools, have resulted in a dramatic growth in voice and data traffic. While telecom networks have largely coped with the additional traffic demands placed on them, these demands have also encouraged telcos and governments alike to step up their investment in fibre-based broadband, and in 5G.

State support is notable in long-term national broadband plans which have been put in place acros the region, and which in general terms aim to create an overall knowledge-based transformation of economies, in turn benefitting societies and business processes.

Notable examples of such schemes include those in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain (all with Vision 2030 programs), which are promoting e-government, e-health, e-commerce, and e-banking systems. Oman is building fibre-based networks as part of a strategy to 2040, hoping to connect all premises to a gigabit network. It is matched by Qatar, which has one of the most mature fixed broadband markets in the Middle East, due to its extensive fixed broadband network (the QNBN) based on GigaNet fibre which already covers more than 90% of premises.

Supporting all of these developments are the numerous existing and planned submarine and terrestrial cables which criss-cross the region. The Middle East is particularly well placed to tap into cable systems running between the Far East and Europe, with numerous landing points in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman.

Key developments
  • Countries in the Middle East are investing in fixed networks to provide the infrastructure underpinning digital transformation, and the long-term development of knowledge-based economies.
  • Investment in fibre has propelled the UAE as the top ranking country in the region (16th globally) for fixed broadband data rates, at 189Mb/s as of September 2021.
  • Qatar’s substantial fixed broadband network based on GigaNet fibre has held it in good stead during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Saudi Arabia climbs in the Digital Infrastructure Index league table, and continues to implement strategies as part of its the Vision 2030.
  • In Israel, the Universal Service Obligations on Bezeq and HOT Telecom have helped extend broadband availability to 99% of premises.
  • Bahrain is pursuing its long-term Economic Vision 2030 strategy, aimed at developing digital services across numerous sectors, including e-government, e-health, e-commerce, and e-banking.

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/Etihad 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
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