Key broadband market boost for Bahraini customers

Key broadband market boost for Bahraini customersBahrain’s broadband market is competitive and continues to deliver lower prices, higher service speeds and data allowances to residential customers and small enterprises, according to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

In a report on its market monitoring activities, the telecom regulator said the range of services offered by efficient competition across technological platforms and ongoing investment in new technologies, such as high-speed mobile broadband, are signs of healthy and sustainable competition, said a report.

Increased value for money for consumers is evident, the TRA said.

The TRA’s retail price benchmarking report, issued in May, showed residential fixed broadband prices in the country had fallen by up to 38 per cent between 2012 and 2013, and mobile broadband prices by up to 65pc over the same period.

Broadband packages have continued to improve throughout the year.

Following the TRA’s determination in March to deregulate the residential and small enterprise segment, prices were reduced significantly.

For example, the price of a 10 Mbps asymmetric digital subscriber line service was BD80 last year, with a data allowance of 80GB.

It was reduced to BD30 ($79), and the data allowance was increased to 100GB, offering consumers more data for a lower price.

A more competitive broadband market is also having a positive effect in terms of speed, Internet usage, and customer satisfaction. The proportion of broadband subscribers in Bahrain on plans with advertised speeds of at least two Mbps increased to 81 per cent last year, compared with 72 per cent in 2012 and 12 per cent in 2007.

According to the TRA’s latest consumer survey, the full results of which will be published shortly, the proportion of individuals using the Internet reached 87 per cent this year, up from 77 per cent in 2011 and 53 per cent in 2007.
Consumer satisfaction with broadband pricing in Bahrain also increased to 87 per cent this year, from 60 per cent in 2011 and 36 per cent in 2007.

The competitive broadband outcomes, which have been achieved for Bahrain end users have been recognised by a number of recent international reports.

According to the Global Competitiveness Report (2014-2015), published recently by the World Economic Forum, Bahrain ranked eighth globally in terms of the proportion of individuals using Internet and fifth in mobile broadband subscriptions per capita.

Bahrain also performs well in terms of broadband affordability.

The International Telecommunication Union has found that broadband penetration grows rapidly in markets where the level of retail broadband price falls below three to five per cent of average monthly incomes.

A report published by the World Bank earlier this year said broadband networks in the Middle East and North Africa accelerating high-speed Internet access, Bahrain prices expressed as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) are below this threshold.

The World Bank report identified Bahrain as the only country in the Middle East and North Africa region, which has reached the mature stage in fixed and mobile broadband market development.

It also acknowledged the increasing infrastructure-based competition in the supply of broadband services in Bahrain, with WiMAX-based competitors and more recently strong growth in mobile broadband.

“The TRA has taken a number of important steps over the last 12 months to facilitate a more competitive broadband market,” TRA general director Mohammed Bubashait said.

“This includes the release of additional spectrum last year to support the development of higher-speed mobile broadband services, and the deregulation of the residential and small enterprise market for broadband services this year.

“It is encouraging to see the fruits of this work emerging in the form of improved consumer broadband offerings, as well as in the form of increased consumer satisfaction with prices and service quality,” he added.

Bubashait said the regulator was proud to be at the forefront of regional efforts to liberalise broadband markets, so that consumers and businesses enjoy competitive and high-quality broadband services.

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