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Middle East to drive early LTE adoption

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Middle East LTE adoption? broadband? 3G?

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates are expected to spearhead LTE adoption in the Middle East as LTE penetration rate for these countries is expected to reach 11.8 percent, more than the projected Western European average of 7.7 percent.

This is according to a new report from Pyramid Research, LTE in the Middle East: Early Lessons From the Gulf Pioneers, which examined the market criteria that will drive the early LTE deployments in the Middle East. Pyramid Research Analyst Kerem Arsal related the driving factors to the LTE adoption forecasts and showed why certain markets are better positioned for growth than others in the region. Arsal also investigated the obstacles that some Middle Eastern markets may face despite sharing some commonalities with the early adopters. To provide a closer look at the active dynamics, the report presented three case studies from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey, which collectively comprise more than half of the total mobile service revenues in the region.

While the Middle East is a smaller market, it makes up the difference in its potential for growth. The Middle East's mobile data revenue growth of 34 percent for 2009 compares with only 7 percent for the same period in Western Europe, Arsal noted. "We expect LTE adoption in the region to reach 6.1 percent of all mobile subscriptions by 2014, due to strong growth of demand for data services, reliance on mobile rather than fixed access technologies, and the increasingly competitive approaches of the telecom regulators," he said. "Among the region's LTE pioneersspecifically Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrainwe project LTE adoption to reach 11.1 percent of all subscriptions by 2014, which surpasses our forecast of a 7.7 percent LTE adoption rate in Western Europe."

Mobile data revenue growth is a result of the absence of strong fixed broadband infrastructure and/or sufficient fixed competition, giving favorable signals to the network operators that are considering LTE deployments in the region. "Throughout the wealthier Gulf region, the absence of widespread fixed broadband infrastructure forced most subscribers to rely on mobile technologies for their Internet needs; as a result, some markets in the Middle East, particularly the Gulf area, have experienced huge leaps in mobile broadband demand," Arsal explained. "These are the most suitable settings for LTE, which is likely to begin its life cycle with data cards and connectivity modems. In addition, wealthy Gulf nations have already developed much expertise in upgraded 3G networks; this will lead to a smoother transition to LTE."

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