Middle East - Mobile Network Operators and MVNOS - New Market Report

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Thu Apr 07 2016

Mobile communications in the Middle East critical to progress

There are a number of countries across the Middle East offering progressive and increasingly competitive mobile markets. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, for example, offer highly competitive mobile markets while Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE have high mobile penetration leading to an increased focused on mobile broadband offerings. On the whole, mobile communications has become critical to progress in the region - it has become a key sector for attracting foreign and public investment; it contributes roughly 4% to GDP each year and generates a large amount of employment.

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Kuwait has one of the highest mobile penetrations in the Middle East and represents a bright spot amongst a region marred by civil tension. The mobile operators in Kuwait are forging ahead and developing both infrastructure and services, with the three major operators of Zain Kuwait, VIVA and Ooredoo all offering LTE services and deploying or exploring LTE-A services.

Bahrain's mobile market is serviced by three Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and subscriber numbers continue to show strong growth despite a highly penetrated market, indicating multiple SIM card ownership among consumers. The saturated mobile voice market has led to the mobile operators increasingly concentrating on mobile broadband, content and application services for revenue growth.

Iran has seen huge growth in mobile subscriber numbers in response to competition, and current penetration levels indicate room for continued revenue growth. Mobile data services are available but still account for a small proportion of total revenue.

Overall, the ongoing civil conflict has created a challenging environment for operators in Iraq with the destruction of infrastructure, fluctuating subscriber bases and resulting revenue declines all adding significant pressure. However in the longer term - the Iraq telecoms market offers many opportunities once the civil unrest stabilises and the government and operators are able to focus again on telecoms and digital growth. Mobile data services will increasingly underpin future revenue growth and in 2016 operators are beginning to make more attractive service offerings available.

Factors that have helped drive competition in Israel include full mobile number portability and regulatory barriers that encourage competition. This has led to operators to focus on mobile data and content opportunities as well as on operating costs, resulting in a number of infrastructure sharing agreements. Cellcom, Pelephone, Orange, Golan Telecom, Hot Mobile, and Marathon Mobile all won spectrum in a 4G LTE auction concluded in January 2015.

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