Table of Contents
Many countries from the Middle Eastern region are aware that fixed broadband infrastructure is important for economic growth and keeping pace with technological advancements. While mobile broadband is often the leading access technology in many markets – there are still enormous investment in fixed broadband infrastructure taking place.
Bahrain has always been at the forefront of Internet penetration in the region and since the introduction of greater competition, and the consequent fall in prices, subscriber numbers have grown even more rapidly. Broadband services are now ubiquitous, with dial-up subscribers negligible. Infrastructure-based competition has been essential to growth and ADSL was once the dominant means of broadband access prior to widespread adoption of mobile broadband.
In 2016 Israel also boasts high broadband penetration. Services are accessible via ADSL, cable, and fibre optic platforms, as well as wireless broadband. Increasing availability of fibre due to capital expenditure has resulted in increased average speeds. There are two other competing infrastructures – the DSL network of fixed-line incumbent Bezeq and the digital cable network of HOT. The broadband market in the UAE is also one of the most advanced both regionally and globally.
In contrast, Lebanon has trailed behind other countries in the region in almost all aspects of broadband networks and services, however this is slowly changing. The renewed focus on building fibre networks as part of “Telecom Vision 2020” should see Lebanon’s broadband sector improve significantly in the next few years.
The international community has also identified Iran as lagging behind in terms of broadband infrastructure and access, particularly when compared to other GCC member states. However, in recent years fixed broadband penetration reached a milestone by climbing to above 10%.
The deployment of fixed broadband has been steady but slow in Kuwait. In the last couple of years fixed services have begun to make inroads but penetration is still low compared to other countries and there is no NBN policy in place.
Smart city developments are driving broadband deployments in many countries. Saudi Arabia, for example, has an ambitious Smart City project underway named King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which will house around 2 million people and is expected to be completed by 2035. Qatar also has its sights firmly set on being a Smart City of the future and the hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022 is attributing to the fast development of smart infrastructure initiatives.
National Broadband Network (NBNs) deployment is considered an important step towards laying the foundation for smart cities. The deployment of the national broadband network in Jordan, for example, is underway with the project now focusing on connecting the Northern governates via public facilities. Funding for the NBN has been assisted by a Gulf Co-operation Council grant.
As part of Oman’s National Broadband Strategy, Oman Broadband Company (OBC) has enabled access to fibre networks for around 60,000 residential and commercial businesses around Muscat. Qatar has also embarked on developing a national fibre-based access network, known as QNBN.
In 2016 Turkey, has become a market to watch with fixed broadband services based on fibre quickly growing and subscriber numbers climbing three-fold since 2013.
While mobile broadband is still the leading technology in the Middle East, fixed broadband services are still considered to be an important infrastructure with many countries making great strides to improve penetration and deployment.
Recognising the socioeconomic advantages of a connected society, Bahrain has deployed its own National Broadband Network (NBN), using infrastructure from the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA).
In 2016 Bezeq from Israel is embarking on a large G.fast network access deployment for its fixed broadband network.
ADSL accounts for the majority of fixed broadband subscriptions in Lebanon.
Growth in ICT spending is expected to increase in Saudi Arabia, driven by strong demand for smartphones and high-speed networks. Underpinning future growth is also a government that regards ICT industry development as a national priority.
Since 2010, fibre broadband has become the fastest growing technology in the UAE, with a growing proportion of the market subscribing to FttH.
Etisalat and Du reached a fixed network sharing agreement in late 2015 which will see them share the UAE’s fibre network.
The Iran government’s fifth economic development plan called for the establishment of a fibre-based national broadband network (NBN).
While funding issues have stopped the NBN project in Jordan a number of times; in 2016 it is around 35% completed.
In 2016 a new broadband operator, Awasr-Oman, launched in Oman (Muscat) using the OBC fibre network.
Fixed broadband is still an emerging area in Syria that will benefit greatly once the country stabilises.
Yemen is currently an unpredictable market that faces serious civic issues. The recent conflict has put a halt on much of the progress for telecoms for the time being.
The fixed telecoms sector has plateaued in Iraq with little investment or interest in developing it at this point.
There are now over 1.8 million fibre broadband subscribers across Turkey.
Companies mentioned in this report
Etisalat, du; TeleYemen, Public Telecommunications Corporation (PTC); Ooredoo Qatar, Vodafone Qatar, Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN); STC, Go Telecom, Mobily; Turk Telekom, Superonline, Superonline, Vodafone Turkey; Bezeq, HOT Telecom, 013 NetVision, 012 Smile Telecom, Xfone 018; Ogero Telecom, Cable One, Cedarcom, GlobalCom Data Services (GDS), Pesco Telecom, Sodetel, IDM/Cyberia, TerraNet, Lebanese Broadband Stakeholders Group (LBSG); STE; ITPC, URUKLINK, Newroz,IQ Networks; Orange Jordan; Omantel, Oman Broadband Company (OBC); Kuwait Ministry of Communications (MoC), Qualitynet, Zajil KEMS, FASTtelco, Gulfnet; Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), Iranian-net; 2Connect, Batelco, Etisalcom, Kalaam Telecoms, Lightspeed, Mena Telecoms, Nuetel Communications, Rapid Telecoms, Zain Bahrain.
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