Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Liberalization of mobile market in the Arab world to bring significant benefits to customers | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Liberalization of mobile markets in the Arab world will bring significant benefits to customers in terms of lower rates, better packages, more advanced features and higher quality of services, said industry expert Bashar Dahabra, Founder and CEO, Info2cell.com, a Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) in the Middle East . Dahabra”s comments were made based on the findings of a recent study conducted by Madar Research Group on four countries in the Middle East and Africa region, which have liberalized their mobile telecommunication markets.

The study focused on the market changes and growth patterns witnessed in Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain – all of which have moved away from a monopolistic structure of the local mobile sector. According to the study, liberalization of the mobile sector in all four countries led to a huge increase in market uptake, bringing significant customer benefits.

&#34The key reasons for the upswing in subscription that follows liberalization of the mobile sector are the aggressive pricing, branding and marketing strategies adopted by both the existing and new operators, as well as a renewed focus on providing cutting-edge mobile content services in order to widen their subscriber base,&#34 Dahabra said. &#34Leveraging the power of technology to provide reliable and innovative mobile content services has now assumed paramount importance, considering the ever-increasing popularity of these value-added services as well as the fact that it has become a significant revenue earner for both mobile operators and content providers.&#34

Dahabra added: &#34The UAE will enjoy an extremely high mobile penetration when a second mobile operator enters the market, resulting in lower rates and more advanced mobile services. The saturation level for mobile subscription in the UAE is expected to be as high as 150 per cent, which is more than that of any other country in the region. This could be achieved in a few years” time, given the trend among people to keep separate mobiles for personal and business use. In addition to this, the UAE has, at any given time, more visitors in relation to its population than any other country in the regions, many of whom subscribe to prepaid mobile services and often keep the SIM cards for future visits.&#34

In 2000, the year when a second mobile carrier entered their telecommunication markets, Morocco and Jordan witnessed a 683 per cent and 250 per cent increase respectively in the number of subscribers. While Kuwait registered a subscription growth of 87 per cent in the year the second mobile carrier entered the market, Bahrain recorded a 47 per cent rise.

&#34The volume of growth depends on the mobile penetration rate at the time the new carrier”s operations are launched. The larger the initial penetration rate, the smaller will be the initial growth, which explains the relatively lower growth registered by Bahrain and Kuwait when compared to Morocco and Jordan ,&#34 Dahabra concluded.