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Data to deliver 25% of Middle East mobile revenues

Iran is the largest mobile market in the Middle East

Mobile data revenues in the Middle East will amount to more than $10bn per year by 2015, or almost a quarter of the region’s mobile revenues, according to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media.

As mobile subscriptions in the Middle East cross the 200 million mark, said Matthew Reed, head of mobile research for the Middle East and Africa at Informa, the use of mobile data, including smartphones and mobile broadband services, represented one of the region’s great success stories.

All of the operators in the six GCC markets have HSPA networks that allow them to offer mobile broadband services but there is still plenty of room for growth, Reed said. Only 7.5 per cent of Middle East mobile subscribers are using 3G services at present as a number of major regional markets – including Iraq and Iran – have yet to launch 3G networks.

According to Informa, the number of mobile subscriptions in the Middle East crossed the 200 million mark in the third quarter of 2010 to reach 202 million at the end of September. Mobile subscriptions in the region are predicted to cross the 300 million mark in 2014 and will reach 327 million at the end of 2015.

Iran is the biggest mobile market in the Middle East in terms of headcount, with almost 66 million subscriptions at the end of September. The country also recorded the biggest growth in the region in terms of mobile subscriptions, with 12.2 million net additions to the Iranian mobile market over the year to the end of September. Saudi Arabia is the second biggest market, with almost 43 million mobile subscriptions, but also boats the most valuable mobile market in the Middle East, with mobile revenues in the country forecast to be $11.2bn in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian mobile market recorded the fastest growth rate over the year to the end of September, with mobile subscription numbers increasing by 56 per cent.

According to Informa, the average rate of mobile penetration in the Middle East was almost 85 per cent at the end of the third quarter and the regional mobile market is still growing strongly, with the number of mobile subscriptions in the region increasing by almost 20 per cent over the nine months to the end of September.

“Although the rate of growth in mobile subscriptions in the Middle East will inevitably slow as the regional market matures, there are still substantial opportunities for subscription-growth in the less-developed markets, as well as in mobile data right across the region,” said Reed.


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