Over the past 18 months this has become one of our most popular reports. Subscribers include not only the ‘usual suspects’ – the members of our beloved telco and broadcasting industry, but government agencies all over the world, various UN organisations, Aid organisations and others.
And so, it is with pride that I present to you this year’s edition. For a full Table of Content see: http://www.budde.com.au/TOC/TOC2973.html.
I would appreciate it if you could pass on this information to interested colleagues in your international organisations and within your industry generally.
I would also like to acknowledge the invaluable work done on the report by our head researcher, Middle East, Christine M Lewis.
Arab country communications are increasingly pan-regional, with cross-border mobile companies joining regional Internet and TV operators;
Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have recently established industry regulators and set timetables for the liberalisation of their markets;
There has been very little investment from outside the region and no new outside strategic investment since the start of 2001. Mobile investors in Turkey, Lebanon and Syria are all involved in ongoing commercial and legal disputes;
Saudi Arabia conducted a successful IPO of a minority share in STC at the end of 2002. Both Israel and Lebanon have been engaged in protracted sales of government shares in telecoms companies. Oman and Turkey are also planning privatisation but the plans have been long in gestation;
UAE, which together with Israel has the most developed telecommunications market, is also one of the least liberalised;
Fixed-line teledensity has declined in Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and Turkey and is generally steady across the region;
Iraq’s already desperately poor telecommunications were mostly destroyed in the 2003 war;
Internet use, with the exceptions of UAE and Israel, is generally low across the region due to economic, political and social reasons;
Iran has recently increased its control of the Internet and TV with clampdowns on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the use of TV satellite dishes;
Broadband use in Israel dwarfs the rest of the region;
There are 150,000 Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) in Israel at early 2003, 16,200 in UAE, 5,000 in Turkey, 1,800 in Jordan and 500 in Saudi Arabia;
Only Israel and UAE have cable broadband services;
Online banking is one of the more successful areas of e-commerce with reports of just under 2 million regular online banking users in the Middle East at early 2003. In the UAE, adoption rates reached over 40%;
There is very wide disparity in mobile use in the Middle East region, with subscriber penetration rates amongst the highest in the world in Israel but practically non-existent in Iraq and very low in Syria and Yemen. The Gulf states, particularly UAE, have comparatively higher rates;
Until recently, Saudi Arabia had surprisingly low numbers of mobile subscribers but during 2002 growth really took off and subscriber numbers doubled, according to monopoly provider STC. This was in a large part due to its belated introduction of prepaid cards in 2002;
Bahrain has awarded a second mobile licence, the first step in its planned industry liberalisation, to a joint venture of local investors and MTC of Kuwait;
No operator in the region has yet started to deploy a Third generation (3G) network. Only Partner in Israel and MTC in Bahrain have announced any intention to do so in the near future;
Both Kuwaiti mobile operators have bought Orascom divestments, with Wataniya acquiring 50% of a Tunisian operator and MTC purchasing the majority of Jordanian operator Fastlink;
The Arab TV market is pan-regional with free-to-air and pay TV satellite operators having footprints covering the entire the region;
The ratings success of al Jazeera has led to the start-up of competing Arab news channels, notably MBC subsidiary al Arabiya.
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Exhibit 1 – Countries covered in the report
United Arab Emirates
Available in pdf format from Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd
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