Arab Advisors Group questions mobile coverage rates

Real mobile market penetration rates may be less than two thirds conventional figures. This claim is made by the Arab Advisors Group following a recent survey in Jordan.

During its survey of Jordan's cellular users, Arab Advisors Group identified multiple line use by the same individuals and the presence of expatriates outside official population figures as two reasons why Jordan's Effective Mobile Penetration Rate is running at around 48%, 26 percentage points lower than its claimed 74.2% mobile penetration rate.

The findings are written up in a new set of survey-based analysis by Arab Advisors Group which not only details the situation but goes on to propose the Effective Mobile Penetration measure alongside the conventional mobile penetration measure for a more accurate analysis of cellular markets in general. Concluded on July 22, 2007, Jordan Cellular Users Survey 2007 has over 170 detailed illustrations over 125 pages and provides the results of this major survey of cellular subscribers in Jordan, a market expecting new WiMAX operators in 2007. Respondents live in the three major cities of Amman, Irbid and Zarka.

Consumption habits and patterns

The survey probed each household's telecom and media consumption habits and patterns related to cellular, Internet, fixed services, VAS, handsets, satellite TV, terrestrial TV and radio. Fieldwork was conducted between May and June 2007. Jawad Abbassi, Arab Advisors Group's Founder and General Manager, looked at the Jordanian market: "Arab Advisors Group survey revealed that on the individual level most respondents own one mobile line: 63.5% of respondents own a single line while 36.5% of respondents own more than one mobile line - 28.5% of cellular users in Jordan have two lines while 5.7% have three lines. A minute minority of 0.8% has more than three lines."

Having more than one line seems to be mainly driven by capitalising on the different plans, offers and promotions of the operators: 58.1% of respondents who have more than one mobile line state cost savings as the reason. Maintaining an older mobile number came in second at 26.3%. Figures exaggerated According to operators' published figures, Jordan's mobile market had 4.15 million lines by end of 2006. Hence, the mobile penetration rate (defined as number of lines divided by the official population figure) stood at 74.2%.

"Based on the trend of the same individual owning multiple lines, the Arab Advisors Group introduced the Effective Mobile Penetration Rate: it considers the percentage of individuals with one or more mobile lines and is calculated by dividing the number of the estimated individual mobile users (and not mobile lines) by the estimated actual population figure (including expatriates and migrant workers)", Mr Abbassi explained.

"Based on the survey findings, the ratio of the number of lines to the number of mobile users is 1.4. Applying this ratio to the reported total number of mobile lines, the actual number of individual mobile subscribers in Jordan is estimated at 2.9 million subscribers by end of 2006. The Arab Advisors Group estimates the population (including expatriates and migrant workers) to be half a million persons above official statistics, consisting mainly of Egyptian, Iraqi and Syrian expatriates. Therefore, the Arab Advisors Group calculates Jordan's Effective Mobile Penetration rate (the percentage of individuals with one or more mobile lines) to be 47.9%...The two measures are not contradictory but rather explore the situation from two different angles: the number of mobile lines as well as the estimated number of individuals using these lines", Mr Abbassi concluded.

Arab Advisors Group's survey of Jordan involved face-to-face interviews with 509 respondents from different households across Jordan's major cities. Respondents were 15 years old and above, and were cellular service users. This random survey is of the current cellular users in Jordan, and not the total population of the country. The survey provides deep insights into the telecom usage patterns in Jordan. The random survey has a 99% confidence level with a less than 6% margin of error. The survey included 130 detailed questions, divided into over 20 sections. Jordan Cellular Users Survey 2007 can be purchased from the Arab Advisors Group.

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