Demand for Arabic content increasing as broadband use extends
Telecoms and fixed-line
Developing regulatory systems in the telecoms sector of the Middle East have improved conditions for competitors although in almost all markets the main competitors to fixed-line incumbents are mobile network operators. Cross-border co-operation is becoming increasingly evident with regulators working together to improve services for end users and operators working together to deploy two regional terrestrial cables. Broadband continues to be the focus of incumbent operators as fixed-line voice revenue continues to decline and governments encourage deployment of faster speeds to underpin development of the Internet economy.
Internet and Broadband
Broadband use is increasing rapidly in the wealthier countries of the Arab Middle East due to infrastructure based competition from mobile network operators. This in turn is driving demand for Arabic content. The speeds currently available in the Middle East is opening up access to high bandwidth forms of digital content, such as Video-on-Demand (VoD). Tough competition exists in the region’s flourishing pan-regional satellite TV market with over 400 FTA channels available.
Recent slow growth is indicative of the maturing Middle East mobile markets. High mobile subscription levels are due to multiple SIM card ownership, a predominantly prepaid user base and lack of mobile number portability in many markets. Perhaps more indicative of the mature market is the emergence of MVNOs which can better cater to specific market segments. In the face of strong competition operators are diversifying into fixed markets or other countries. Other operators have voiced renewed focus on achieving operational efficiencies although the impending spending required to build and operate faster mobile broadband networks will make this target increasingly challenging.
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