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Results for telecoms price benchmarking study in Arab countries released by TRA Bahrain

by Josie Sephton | 1月 27, 2016

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) in Bahrain has recently released the 2015 update of the retail price benchmarking study into telecoms services in Arab countries. The study, conducted by the Teligen division of Strategy Analytics, was commissioned by TRA on behalf of AREGNET (the Arab Regulators Network)

The 212-page report for 2015 provides an in-depth analysis of the cost of telecoms services for different types of users, and considers the cost of fixed and mobile voice, fixed and mobile broadband and leased lines across up to 22 Arab countries, as well as providing a comparison with average OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) pricing. Development of prices in each of the Arab countries covered since 2010 is also included.

The study reveals that the prices of telecommunications services in the Arab countries remain broadly more expensive than OECD average prices, across all telecoms services. Generalizing in this way, however, masks the fact that this balance may vary dramatically by service type, levels of usage, and country. 

For fixed voice, for example, the cost of lower usage baskets in the Arab countries is well below the OECD average. The fixed voice results are impacted adversely by the cost of services in the North African Arab countries, which are typically higher than those in the middle East. The chart below shows a summary of the findings from the report.

Mobile voice costs compare well to OECD averages for lower usage, excluding handset data but are significantly more expensive for higher and for profiles that include data. This less than favourable result for higher usage/usage including handset data conceals the fact that the average has been heavily skewed by a relatively small number of very expensive countries, and a large number of Arab countries are actually significantly below the OECD average. See the chart below for a summary of the mobile voice results.

For fixed broadband, the Arab average residential cost is up to 3.1 times higher than the average OECD cost. In 2013, the gap between OECD and Arab residential service costs was much greater. For business services, the average is up to 15 times higher. For both residential and business services, the averages continue to be skewed by particularly high costs in a number of countries. Usage based charges still exist in a small number of Arab countries, although these have a limited impact on the basket results. A summary of the results for residential offers is shown below.

Mobile broadband services are available across all the Arab countries, with an average advertised download speed of just over 63 Mb/s (where published), up from 34 Mb/s in 2013. This increase in speed is a result of the continued rollout of 4G services across many countries. In terms of pricing, there is much more parity between Arab and OECD averages, compared to 2013, most notably for higher speed services, where over half of the Arab countries fall below the OECD average for residential. The 2015 summary is shown below.

In addition to the main report, TRA has also released an updated version of the report which looks more in-depth at the results for Bahrain across the various services, in relation to the other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries overall as well as to the OECD averages. This study found that, for all services, prices in Bahrain were typically lower than both GCC and Arab averages, and generally, either better than or on par with OECD averages, as indicated in the summary below.

Full results from both the main study and the Bahrain-specific price benchmarking report, along with detailed information on the methodology used, are available for download free of charge on TRA's website.

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