Middle East turns to fibre to satisfy appetite for data – R&M

Middle East turns to fibre to satisfy appetite for data – R&M

The deployment of fibre-based broadband infrastructure has attracted increased interest in many markets of the Middle East due to the rising demand for data from consumers and enterprises alike, reports Research & Markets.

While parts of the Middle East are having ongoing civil unrest issues which have stagnated telecoms developments (e.g. Syria, Yemen), the more stabilised and progressive countries are moving forwards and making significant inroads in developing and progressing fixed broadband infrastructure.

Many countries are also recognising that high-speed fixed broadband infrastructure will be required to underpin the current 5G evolution and provide the backbone for smart cities overall.

While broadband access based on DSL technology has been prevalent in many Middle Eastern countries, this is slowly changing in some markets, with fibre-based deployments increasing. In Saudi Arabia, for example, DSL subscriptions still accounted for the largest proportion of fixed broadband subscriptions in 2019, but fibre-based broadband subscriptions are growing faster.

A similar situation is underway in Bahrain where DSL subscriptions still hold the majority market share but have been declining since 2013 in favour of fibre broadband. Fibre-broadband access is expected to increase further in Kuwait, in line with the ongoing national fibre network deployment.

This increased interest in fibre-based broadband is also leading to innovation and new initiatives in some markets of the Middle East. In Lebanon, for example, the incumbent Ogero became one of the first in the world during 2019 to conduct a commercial trial of a fixed network slicing solution deployed to its FttH network. By the end of 2022, the Lebanese government aims to cover the entire country with fibre-based infrastructure.

Competition in the wholesale broadband market is improving in some markets as well and infrastructure sharing initiatives are being implemented. Licences were recently awarded in Lebanon, for example, which allows alternative service providers to operate and supply FttH services to consumers, using Ogero's government-owned network.

Overall, fixed broadband in the Middle East is becoming a more dynamic and progressive sector with countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar leading the way - and other countries like Iran and Turkey offering potential growth opportunities.

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