A report from Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) says that the sector was worth BHD303 million (USD804 million) in service revenues in 2008, up by 6.3% from the previous year, with mobile services accounting for 50% of all turnover. Telecoms revenues generated 3.7% of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year, according to the watchdog’s figures. The number of fixed lines in service increased by 8% year-on-year to 220,386 by end-December, mainly due to the growth of fixed-wireless connections, while around 70% of domestic fixed line voice traffic was accounted for by fixed-to-mobile calls.
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Mobile subscribers exceeded 1.45 million at end-2008, up from 1.12 million a year earlier. Based on an estimated population of 1.1 million this represented a cellular penetration rate of 131%, according to the report (using an official resident population figure, the penetration rate is 193%). The penetration figure has been pushed upwards by factors including the large number of non-nationals present in the country and multiple phone/PDA ownership for personal and work usage, the TRA said. Pre-paid subscribers represented 84% of mobile users at the end of last year, the report added. Annual international outgoing voice minutes leapt by 49% year-on-year; 90% of outgoing overseas traffic in the fourth quarter was originated on mobile networks.
Total fixed broadband subscribers increased by 50% year-on-year to 110,000 at the end of December, the report continued, whilst there were just 4,000 dial-up subscribers at the same date. Broadband figures include recently launched WiMAX-based services of Zain Bahrain and Mena Telecom which, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, had signed up 20,000 and approximately 10,000 high speed users respectively by end-March 2009.