New Report Available: Bahrain Telecommunications Report Q1 2014

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Thu Dec 26 2013

Bahrain's telecoms market is rapidly moving towards high-value wireless and wireline data services, supported by the launch of 4G LTE network services and 100Mbps fibre broadband services in 2013. We expect this to help operators offset revenue shortfalls from traditional voice services and improve their subscriber mixes, as consumers turn to postpaid contracts to subsidise the purchase of LTE-enabled smartphones. We retain a positive outlook for the take-up of these services based on strong take-up of mobile broadband services in 2012 and H113 and the government's continued expansionary policy, which will sustain high private consumption levels.

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Key Data

* Bahrain's mobile market grew by an impressive 6.1% in the first six months of 2013, to 2.253mn subscribers. This was stronger than expected growth, pushing the penetration rate up to almost 170%.
* Operators and the regulator reported an acceleration in the decline of ARPUs in 2012 and H113, resulting in a downwards revision of our ARPU forecasts. We expect ARPUs of BHD7.4 in 2013, falling to BHD6.7 by 2017.
* After recording growth in 2012 the fixed-line sector took a turn for the worse in the first half of 2013. Both subscriptions numbers and usage declined in 2013, resulting in a downward revision of our forecasts. We estimate there will be 256,000 fixed-lines in Bahrain at the end of 2013, dropping to 246,000 by 2017.

Risk/Reward Ratings

This quarter Bahrain's Risk/Reward score dropped by 1.3 points to 51.4, pulling it down just below the regional average of 52.1. The decline was due to a 2.8 point drop in its Industry Rewards score, to 44, due to a considerable fall in ARPU during the first six months of 2013. There were no changes to Bahrain's scores in any other categories, and it remained in seventh position in BMI's Telecoms Risk/Reward Ratings table. 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

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