Bahrain telecom market deemed most mature in Middle East

08 June 2018 3 min. read

Bahrain has been named as the best telecom market in the Middle East according to telecommunications research consultancy BuddeComm. The Kingdom has one of the highest mobile and broadband penetrations in the Middle East and is a regional leader in digital growth industries.

Bahrain has been a market leader in telecoms for the past half a century and still remains unchallenged in its number one position. The country was the first point in the Middle East to host a telephone connection – which connected the European continent to India – and was the first country in the GCC to adopt the internet.

As the country began to shift the focus of its economy towards technology from oil, it began laying the foundations of a world class telecom infrastructure. This included both physical groundwork – ie. mature broadband network infrastructure – and legislative headway – open telecom markets, which were liberalised back in 2002.

As a result, Bahrain has developed a mature, albeit competitive market and has been named as the best telecoms market in the Middle East on the Telecoms Maturity Index (TMI). The report was conducted by consulting firm BuddeComm and gives each country a score out of 100, based on a number of categories.

The firm identifies both market leaders and emerging challengers in the TMI. BuddeComm then factors in the level the mobile penetration and the mobile broadband penetration to determine which country ranks as a market leader. Bahrain scored highest when all factors were taken into account, achieving a score of 70 points out of 100, followed closely by the UAE with a score of 67.Bahrain telecom market most mature in Middle East according to BuddeCommThe annual report included data from the GCC states, as well as from Lebanon, Jordan Israel, Iran, and Iraq, but has excluded Syria and Yemen at current times due to a lack of data. The factors which separate leaders and challengers are predominantly GDP per capita as well as the country in question’s level of economic stability and urbanisation.

On the opposite end, the most noteworthy market challengers in the Middle East’s telecoms industry were Lebanon and Jordan, which both scored 52 points. These countries both demonstrated that amid economic and civil pressures they could still respond to rising market demand for telecommunications services.

Overall, the telecoms sector in the countries analysed was dominated by nine regional players and six international operators. In Bahrain, while there were only three major telcos, the Kingdom’s liberal policies have opened the market up to a host of over 20 noteworthy providers. The addition of new competitors in the field is driving prices down while the quality of services continues to rise in the Kingdom.

Referencing the global rise in telecoms due to the third industrial revolution, the report states: “Developing markets like the Middle East were quickly identified as offering room for potential mobile growth as well as infrastructure building opportunities.”

As for the present, the report concludes; “The operators face many challenges in the Middle East, including the rise of competition; the impact of civil conflict upon the region, difficult topography, variances in regulatory laws and differing economic conditions. The operators also need to keep pace with the rapid rate of development in telecoms on a global level and this requires huge capital expenditure as well as an appropriately skilled workforce.”