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 Monday, March 25, 2013

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Bahrain (TRA) has released the latest update of the retail price benchmarking study of telecommunications services in Arab countries. The study was commissioned by the TRA on behalf of AREGNET (the Arab Regulators Group). It was undertaken by Teligen, an independent consulting firm specializing in tariff comparisons. The main insights of the study are:

  • Mobile tariffs: Mobile prices in Bahrain have fallen by up to 30% between 2011 and 2012, and by up to 41% since 2008 when TRA decided to allow a third mobile operator to enter Bahrain. Mobile prices in Bahrain have been deregulated since 2010. They compare well with GCC and Arab averages but mobile prices in Bahrain remain consistently above the OECD average.
  • Fixed broadband: The entry of Wimax-based operators following TRA’s award of new fixed-wireless licences in 2007 has significantly enhanced the competitiveness of fixed broadband services in Bahrain. Fixed broadband prices in Bahrain have fallen by up to 53% between 2011 and 2012, and by up to 71% since 2008. For the low speed and mid speed baskets, Bahrain is now one of the cheapest GCC and Arabcountries. The picture is somewhat different for the high speed basket (>15 Mb/s), where despite price reductions in 2012, fixed broadband in Bahrain remains relatively expensive compared to other GCC countries (particularly residential prices). The OECD average is significantly lower than the fixed broadband prices in Bahrain, the GCC averages and Arab averages, particularly for the high speed basket.
  • Mobile broadband: Mobile broadband pricesare set freely by each of the three mobile operators since 2010. They have also come down significantly as a result of an increasingly competitive market. Mobile broadband prices in Bahrain declined by up to 63% between 2011 and 2012, and Bahrain has amongst the lowest prices for mobile broadband in GCC and Arab countries. Bahrain also compared well with the OECD. TRA expects faster and new services from the auction of additional spectrum planned in April 2013.
  • Fixed voice tariffs: Bahrain is one of the cheapest Arab countries. Although Bahrain compares well with other Arab and OECD countries (low baskets) in terms of the cost of a basket of fixed voice services, calling revenues still represents a significant portion of the fixed line cost, suggesting that retail rates are not rebalanced. Fixed voice tariffs in Bahrain have been static in nominal terms for all users in the last five updates.
  • Leased line tariffs: As is the case in most of the GCC countries, the prices for leased lines in Bahrain have not changed in nominal terms since the first Arab Price Benchmarking Study in 2008. Leased line prices in Bahrain are similar to prices in the Arab region, although by OECD standards, leased lines tariffs in Bahrain remain high. The finding that prices have not changed over the last four years indicates that competitive pressures in the leased line market have been less intense than in other telecommunications markets within Bahrain. TRA has sought to address this during 2012 through the introduction of better retail prices for a new type of leased lines and through the introduction a new regulated wholesale local access service, which should enable other operators to compete more effectively in the supply of retail leased line services to end users.

Source: Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Bahrain (TRA).