Bahrain mobile phone subscribers top 2.3m
Manama, October 8, 2013
With more than 2.25 million mobile subscriptions at the end of June, Bahrain's mobile penetration rate has been assessed at 182 per cent, according to a report by the kingdom's regulator.
The latest telecoms markets indicators report by Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) shows that the number of active mobile broadband subscriptions at the end of the second quarter was 1.2 million.
Covering a range of telecoms services indicators, such as the number of subscribers, penetration rates, calls usage and telecoms revenues, the report is based on data provided by operators and TRA's data.
The number of mobile subscriptions increased by 56 per cent between 2008 and second quarter this year, with the penetration rate increasing from 130 per cent in 2008 to 182 per cent, the report found.
The volume of mobile-originated calls has also increased significantly since 2008, by 216 per cent in the case of domestic mobile volumes, and by 175 per cent in the case of mobile-originated international calls.
Domestic mobile originated traffic reached 5.8 billion minutes last year, an increase of 15 per cent on 2011.
At the end of the second quarter, approximately 1m mobile voice subscribers were active mobile broadband subscribers, representing 45 per cent of the total.
The number of broadband subscribers as on the same date was approximately 1.38 million representing a penetration rate of 112 per cent. The majority of broadband subscribers (87 per cent) were mobile broadband subscribers.
By the end of the second quarter, there were about 257,000 fixed lines in Bahrain, equating to a fixed line penetration of 21 per cent.
Fixed wireless services as a proportion of total fixed lines increased from less than one per cent in 2007 to 27 per cent in 2011 and 35 per cent at the end of the second quarter.
This was due to offers by the kingdom's two WiMax operators, the TRA report said.
The volume of international outgoing minutes was measured at 2.6 billion minutes last year compared to 2.05 billion minutes in 2011.
After the stabilisation of international call traffic in 2011, the volume of international outgoing minutes grew by 28 per cent last year.
International outgoing minutes originated on mobile represented 95 per cent of total international outgoing minutes last year.
During last year, 85 per cent of total international calls (minutes) were made to South Asian countries, while only 57 per cent of international revenues were generated from calls to South Asian countries.
"The entry of the third mobile network operator continues to deliver significant benefits to the kingdom's economy and consumers," TRA chairman Dr Mohammed Al Amer was quoted as saying in the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"The greater competition among the mobile operators resulting from that decision is now having an impact on the fixed line market, and this is increasingly evident from the changing mix of calling patterns as well as the significant uptake of innovative mobile broadband services," he stated.
Al Amer pointed out that a challenge for the TRA was to ensure that the regulatory framework which applies to the telecoms sector in Bahrain adequately reflects these competitive developments and continues to support competition and the interests of end users in the years to come.
In this regard, TRA completed a number of important market reviews in the first half this year, including those relating to international capacity and mobile termination services, and is currently undertaking further market reviews in respect of broadband services and leased line services.
These have been identified by the TRA and industry as important work streams as set out in the TRA's Three Year Work Plan (2013-2015), which was published in March this year.
The telecoms sector overall remains a major contributor to national wealth, with annual gross telecoms turnover estimated at BD409 million ($1.084 billion) last year, or 4 per cent of GDP.
The liberalisation created employment opportunities for highly skilled professionals, with approximately 3,100 employees working directly in the telecoms sector as of last year.
A high proportion of these opportunities are being filled by Bahrainis, with the sector achieving 80 per cent Bahrainisation. The number of employees has grown by 27 per cent between 2008 and last year.-Reuters
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