Bahrain Telecommunications Report Q3 2013: New research report available at Fast Market Research

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Fri Jun 14 2013

Bahrain's telecoms market is moving rapidly towards high-value wireless and wireline data services, with the launch of 4G LTE network services and 100Mbps fibre broadband services in H113. We expect this to help operators offset revenue shortfalls from traditional voice services, which are under pressure on the back of increasing market saturation. We also retain a positive outlook for the take-up of these services based on the government's continued expansionary policy, which will sustain high private consumption levels, and the growing use data-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Key Data

* Mobile growth in 2012 was 18.1%, according to BMI data. This was a penetration rate of around 147%.
* The fixed-line sector grew by 5.5% in 2012, driven by fixed wireless services offered by alternative operators.
* The broadband sector grew by 57.5% in 2012, driven by mobile broadband connections, which accounted for 60% of total broadband lines as of June 2012.

Full Report Details at

Risk/Reward Ratings

Bahrain remains in seventh position in BMI's Telecoms Risk/Reward Ratings table this quarter with an aggregate score of 52.7, marginally above the regional average of 51.7. The country's lowest score is in the industry risks category, which reflects strong state influence on the telecoms sector despite the existence of an independent telecoms regulator, and continued government ownership of the incumbent operator.

Bahrain's highest score is in the country risks category, as the country benefits from a positive real private consumption growth outlook on the back of the government's expansionary budget and high public sector spending.

Key Trends And Developments

Local investors may be able to buy into Zain Bahrain before the end of 2013 following an approval from the government that allows the operator to list up to 15% of its shares on the stock exchange. Zain is considering floating an IPO on the local bourse, which would result in changes to its current ownership structure. Kuwait-based Zain Group has a 56.25% stake in Zain Bahrain. Other shareholders in the company include Zain Bahrain's chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali Abdulla al-Khalifa, UK-based Vodafone Group and a government pension fund.

An auction to sell radio spectrum for next-generation telecoms networks was suspended by the Bahrain government in April 2013 after wireless broadband providers Menatelecom and 2Connect appealed against their exclusion from the sale. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority was scheduled to auction 12 lots of spectrum, mainly for 4G networks, on March 31. The original framework published by the regulator for the bidding made the process open to all bidders, a development that encouraged some operators to sign 4G network deployment contracts. At the time of writing, there was no update to this situation.

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