The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the Kingdom of Bahrain published the 2019 Telecommunications Retail Price Benchmarking Report in the Arab countries. The report compares the telecommunications prices in the Arab countries with those in the OECD countries.
According to the results of the study, mobile prices in Bahrain decreased by 15% between 2018 and 2019. In addition, the telecommunications companies in Bahrain offer the lowest prices on the GCC and Arab levels, especially in the high usage baskets. As a result of the decrease in mobile prices, mobile subscriptions with data services reached 78% by the end of the 2019, and mobile data usage increased by 74% between 2017 and 2018. The change of the consumers usage behavior from traditional voice services to data services has contributed somehow to reducing the number of mobile subscriptions in the recent years and this is what has also been observed in other GCC countries. Despite this decrease, the mobile penetration rate in Bahrain is still one of the highest in the world, and it is also higher than the average penetration rate in developed countries.
The study shows that fixed and mobile broadband prices in Bahrain are among the lowest in the GCC and Arab levels. Whereas, fixed broadband prices in Bahrain are 19% lower than the average prices in the GCC countries. These indicators confirm that the regulatory framework adopted by TRA and the projects it is undertaking to promote competition and implement government policies represented in the National Telecommunications Plan continue to bring more benefits to consumers.
Since the issuance of the Fourth National Telecommunications Plan, the number of fixed wired broadband subscriptions has dramatically increased to 123 thousand subscriptions by the end of 2019, an increase of 71% since the issuance of the plan in the middle of 2016. According to the latest market data, the broadband penetration rate reached 157% by the end of the third quarter of 2019, and Internet data usage increased by 185% between 2015 and 2018. The competition also contributed to lower prices for fixed broadband services with high speeds, making them available to a high percentage of users. The latest indicators show that 92% of all fixed broadband subscribers get 10MB/s and more, compared to only 36% in 2015.
As a result of the availability of Internet services to citizens and residents in Bahrain at competitive prices, Internet users in Bahrain reached 99%. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Report, Bahrain is ranked fourth globally in Internet users. These competitive prices contributed to achieving high levels of user satisfaction, as 85% of broadband users and 82% of mobile users are satisfied with their services, according to the latest telecommunications market survey in Bahrain.
“Promoting competition and encouraging investment in the telecommunications sector is ongoing and keeps pace with all economic developments and the latest global technologies in order to bring more benefits to users.” Says TRA’s Acting General Director Sh. Nasser bin Mohamed Al Khalifa. “In this regard and after achieving Batelco separation and establishing the National Broadband Network, TRA is implementing a number of initiatives that will enable this network to provide advanced services allowing operators to provide various services at competitive prices.” Sh. Nasser added.
“With regards to mobile services, TRA has provided the required spectrum and granted sufficient frequency licenses to provide 5G services, making Bahrain one of the first countries in the region to establish 5G networks. Through these initiatives, TRA seeks to achieve the government strategic goal to keep Bahrain at the forefront regionally and internationally and make it a regional hub for trade and ICT.” Sh. Nasser also added.