By Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter
Qatar’s mobile market will end this year with 4.86mn mobile subscribers, rising to 5.42mn at the end of BMI’s forecast period in 2020, the Fitch Group company has said in a report.
The country’s mobile subscriber base expanded by 9.7% in 2015, BMI said. This, however, was down only slightly from the growth of 10.8% recorded in 2014.
“Growth was fuelled by a variety of social and economic factors, including continued migrant worker growth and infrastructure projects related to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup,” BMI said in its latest ‘Qatar Telecommunications Report’.
BMI maintains its prediction that broadband subscriber numbers will grow steadily from an estimated 527,000 at the end of 2015 to more than 803,000 by the end of 2020. This will be equivalent to a penetration rate of 32.7%, up from 23.6% in 2015.
In 2015, Qatar's mobile market continued to experience robust growth, outperforming BMI's initial forecasts. Key factors contributing to the expanding subscriber base include the growth of the migrant population, which is associated with major infrastructure and economic development projects - including those related to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, BMI said.
“Although positive subscriber growth will continue for the duration of our forecast, we expect it slow significantly in the later forecast years. Qatar's telecoms market benefits from a wealthy population and this drives demand for advanced data services. High average revenue per unit (ARPU) is underpinned by the uptake of LTE (Long Term Evolution) and fibre services in the country, as well as multiple-SIM ownership through multiple-device ownership such as smartphone, tablet and dongle,” BMI said.
Qatar ranks third in BMI's latest Risk/Reward Index for the Middle East and North Africa, with a score of 60.3 compared to a regional average of 46.2. But BMI said the “primary economic threat” for Qatar is lower energy prices. With the economy reliant on oil and gas exports, the ongoing slump in global energy prices could eventually pose “downside risks” to the country's growth outlook, it said.
The introduction of competition into Qatar’s telecoms market has brought significant benefits to the consumers including reduced prices, more innovative offerings, improved customer service and improved quality of service.
While Qatar and all countries in the region still lag behind most OECD countries in terms of price and quality of service, progress is being made.
Also, compared to its regional peers, Qatar has very competitive prices in both mobile and fixed voice services.
The quality of telecommunications service, especially in mobile service, has improved substantially since the introduction of competition.
The country’s two telecommunication service providers, Ooredoo and Vodafone, are global players, offering a range of latest products and services in many key markets around the world.
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