Telecom boom to 'redefine Arab media boundaries'
Amman, May 14, 2008
The Arab World’s Telecom and broadcast media boom will re-define the traditional boundaries that separated media and telecom companies and enable convergent services as operators chase revenues in non-traditional areas, according to industry experts.
Increasing adoption of broadband internet in the Arab World is set to boost convergence-based services, the experts said on the eve of Fifth Annual Media and Telecommunications Convergence Conference to be held in Amman.
The two-day event, to be held under the patronage of Bassem Al Rousan, Jordan’s minister of ICT, comes as the Arab World’s telecommunications and broadcast entertainment markets continue to experience strong growth.
This has led to stiff competition among telecom subscribers, according to regional research house and conference organizer Arab Advisors Group, a member of the Arab Jordan Investment Bank Group.
By end of 2007, the fixed line broadband penetration as a percent of total population ranged from 8 per cent in Qatar to a mere 0.02 per cent in Sudan in the Arab World.
Qatar, UAE and Bahrain lead with 8, 7.8 and 7 per cent respectively followed by Saudi Arabia (2.4 per cent), Jordan (1.6 per cent), Palestine (1.5 per cent), Morocco (1.5 per cent), Tunisia (1.1 per cent), Lebanon (1 per cent), Algeria (0.9 per cent), Oman (0.7 per cent), Egypt (0.6 per cent), Mauritania (around 0.1 per cent), Yemen (0.05 per cent), Syria (0.04 per cent) and Sudan (0.02 per cent).
“While absolute broadband penetration in the Arab World may seem low by industrial countries standards, the effective household broadband penetration is much higher,' Jawad J. Abbassi, Arab Advisors founder and general manager noted.
This is related to higher number of people per household as well as line sharing. For example, a new Arab Advisors survey in Egypt revealed that 63.4 per cent of Egyptian households that use the ADSL service, share their ADSL connection with neighbors.
A massive 81.9 per cent of households that use shared ADSL lines share them with more than three neighboring households,” he added.
'Based on the survey results, the average number of households sharing one ADSL connection is 2.98. Multiplying the reported number of lines by this figure yields an estimate for households with ADSL connections in Egypt of 956,000 households by end of 2007, much higher than the number of accounts.'
While ADSL sharing is illegal in many countries and does negatively affect quality, the Arab Advisors Group believes that the practice is widespread in the Arab World.
The silver lining is that more households are connected to broadband Internet services which would positively affect adoption of Internet-based services such as e-commerce, multimedia, user generated content and e-government services.” Abbassi added.
Speakers and delegates at Arab Advisors’ Media and Telecommunications Convergence Conference 2008 will deliberate threats and opportunities inherent in this landscape change.
The Zain Group is the main sponsor of the event which will see 38 visionary executives and industry leaders address the gathering.
Close to 400 delegates from 86 different companies have already confirmed their attendance. As part of its vision to advance the knowledge and technology industries in the Arab World, Arab Advisors has waived the delegate fees for telecom and broadcast operators.-TradeArabia News Service