Low fixed-line access makes Middle East mobile Mecca

26 Jun 2007

Lack of fixed-line penetration in the Middle East could result in rich pickings for mobile operators, with the region presenting greater proportionate revenue opportunities than Europe.

In 2006, total mobile revenue per capita in the Middle East demonstrated a trend above that of European markets when comparing markets in the two regions with similar levels of average disposable income, according to Analysys. For example, in a Middle Eastern market where disposable income is US$10,000, total mobile revenues would be expected to be 20pc higher than an equivalent European market.

“While there is increasing liberalisation of the mobile market across the region, mobile operators in the Middle East have benefited from the relative lack of competition in both fixed and mobile markets and have been able to bring in impressive revenues,” said Daniel Jones, author of the Analysys report The Middle Eastern mobile market: trends and forecasts 2007-12. “However, as competition intensifies across the region, operators will have an increasingly tough time trying to maintain this premium.”

The report found that total mobile service revenue in the region is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 10pc, from US$22bn in 2006 to US$39.7bn by the end of 2012. In many countries, service revenue will be boosted by strong growth in subscribers, outweighing the effect of falling average revenue per user (ARPU), which will accompany subscriber growth in many maturing markets.

Also, low fixed-line penetration in the Middle East will allow mobile operators to capture a greater share of total telecoms spend than would otherwise have been possible and will present opportunities for mobile operators to increase their non-voice ARPU through the provision of mobile broadband, the report found.

By Niall Byrne