Bharat Book Bureau: Bahrain - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts
(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Executive summary
Bahrain boosts broadband offerings
Possessing one of the smallest markets in the Middle East, Bahrain's telecoms market is arguably one the most developed. Early to liberalise its market, it is one of the most open in the region, underpinned by a relatively well-developed regulatory environment. Bahrain's latest communications development policy, the Third National Telecommunications Plan, recognises the socio economic importance of broadband and hence focuses on improving performance and affordability of broadband services.
In contrast to other countries with high mobile penetration, the number of fixed lines in Bahrain is increasing due to infrastructure based competition by WiMAX operators. Contracting revenue due to growing competition in its home market has forced incumbent Batelco to look abroad for growth, initially focusing on the Middle East region before its late 2012 acquisition of Cable and Wireless International's Monaco and Island division, comprised of assets in Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Monaco, Afghanistan, Maldives, Diego Garcia, Seychelles, St Helena, Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands.
Bahrain boasts high Internet penetration levels due to strong infrastructure-based competition; ADSL was once the dominant means of broadband access prior to widespread adoption of WiMAX and mobile broadband, but now accounts for only one in eight broadband subscriptions. This figure is expected to fall further as mobile broadband penetration continues to grow.
Recognising the socioeconomic advantages of a connected society, Bahrain has deployed its own National Broadband Network (NBN), using infrastructure from the national Electricity and Water utility company and promising speeds of up to 1Gb/s.
Three network operators compete in the mobile market, which is made up predominantly of prepaid users. Subscriber numbers continue to show strong growth despite a highly-penetrated market, indicating multiple SIM card ownership. Bahrain was one of the first to introduce Long-term Evolution (LTE) technology in the Middle East, with all three operators utilising LTE networks to underpin future revenue growth through take up of mobile, content and application services. An auction of additional spectrum to promote future mobile broadband market growth was halted in early 2013 after a WiMAX operator commenced legal action over its exclusion from what was originally promoted as an open auction.
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