|10 October, 2019

Bahrain Internet users hit 99% due to increasing affordability of Internet services

The watchdog said Bahrain’s high Internet penetration was a result of lower tariffs for getting online.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Solitary Arab Man On Phone Inside City Flat.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Solitary Arab Man On Phone Inside City Flat.

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Bahrain - Ninety-nine per cent of Bahrain’s population is connected to the Internet, but only 16pc of households still have fixed telephone lines.

That is according to a survey of 1,548 people aged 15 and above, which was conducted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

The watchdog said Bahrain’s high Internet penetration was a result of lower tariffs for getting online.

“According to the results of the survey, Internet users have reached 99pc – which is a clear indication of the increasing affordability of Internet services in Bahrain,” stated the TRA yesterday.

“The results of the survey show that Internet applications represent most Internet activities, such as social media applications.

“For instance, 99pc of respondents said they use WhatsApp and YouTube, 95pc use Instagram and Facebook, and 90pc use Snapchat.”

It added that Bahrain was among countries that had the highest Internet penetration in the world, based on International Telecommunication Union data.

Survey

Almost all of those surveyed also had a mobile phone service, although it appears fewer people are using more than one SIM card.

“The survey shows that the percentage of users with two or more mobile SIM cards is in decline, reaching 16pc in 2018 compared to 38pc in 2017,” said the TRA.

“This reflects developments in mobile telephony packages, such as the introduction of new and comprehensive packages as well as the significantly increasing use of mobile data.”

Those who did have more than one SIM card explained they needed separate SIMs for business and personal use.

Meanwhile, the low number of people who still use fixed telephone lines was attributed to high dependence on mobile networks.

Overall, 85pc of those questioned said they were satisfied with telecommunications services in Bahrain. However, respondents said they would welcome lower prices and better quality of services.

“The results of this survey show significant developments in the nature by which telecommunications services are used and required by users,” said TRA acting general director Shaikh Nasser bin Mohammed Al Khalifa.

He added a separation of Batelco in May, to ensure more competition in fiber optic Internet services, would support further development of the sector.

“The high number of Internet users in Bahrain and the volume of Internet usage that require high speeds and large amounts of data – in addition to the desire of users to obtain services at lower prices and better quality – all illustrate the importance of the deployment of the National Broadband Network using fiber optic cables, which was achieved through the Batelco’s separation process,” he said.

“The network will enable the provision of high-speed broadband services to individual and business users.”

Services

Batelco’s legal separation into two entities – one focused on retail services and the other on wholesale – was a key part of the country’s Fourth National Telecommunications Plan, which was approved by the Cabinet in May 2016.

The move was instigated to ensure fair competition in the telecom sector, in which Batelco was the only player until 2003.

It effectively ended Batelco’s monopoly over the country’s fiber optics network, since its new wholesale division has to grant other operators access.

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