Bahrain has the most mature telecoms market in the Middle East, according to BuddeComm.
The independent research and consultancy company, which is well regarded for its intelligence reports, has recently launched it's Telecoms Maturity Index. The TMI analyses the broadband, mobile and fixed line markets of a country as well as a range of economic parameters to rank it on a scale of 1 to 100 and compare it to its region.
Bahrain is the top-ranking country in the Middle East with a Telecoms Maturity Index score of 70. The UAE scored 67. The top three ‘market challengers' are Lebanon with a score of 52, Jordan (52) and Saudi Arabia (45).
The main disparities between market leaders and challengers are the GDP per capita, the level of urbanization, the level of economic stability, the mobile penetration and the mobile broadband penetration which appear to be high for the market leaders but moderate for the market challengers. Fixed broadband penetration remains low for both categories.
The report said that expansion by operators from more developed markets into the region several years ago has benefited the Middle East market overall, with six international operators now in the market. These operators have brought valuable experience, infrastructure, services, investment and solutions to the region, to compete with the nine dominant domestic players.
This increased competition has been a challenge for some operators, along with other challenges which include large capital expenditure and skills requirements for new infrastructure roll out, variances in regulatory environments and prevailing economic conditions.
BuddeComm also highlighted that many mobile operators are facing increased challenges in the sector, due primarily to regulatory reforms, liberalisation, Over-The-Top providers, economic and civil conditions, the lifting of sanctions (Iran) and mobile market saturation.
In many cases governments and operators have attempted to curb or stop the disruptive influence of Over-The-Top players, the analyst company noted; however, this has had limited success as it can be difficult to regulate such prohibitions and citizens often turn to VPN solutions to access such services.