Mobile broadband in Arab states to touch 142 million by 2017: GSMA

Telecom Lead Middle East: Mobile broadband connections in Arab states are likely to increase 255 percent to 142 million by 2017 from 40 million in 2011, according to GSMA.

Mobile broadband connections have already overtaken fixed-line connections by over 350 percent.

GSMA recommends governments in the region to offer spectrum in line with internationally and regionally harmonized spectrum bands, including the Digital Dividend, 2.6GHz and 1.8GHz bands.

The release of additional spectrum could raise the region’s combined GDP by $108 billion between 2015 and 2025.

Santino Saguto, partner consulting, TMT Leader for Deloitte Middle East, says current spectrum allocations are not able to sustain the potential growth in data traffic and, unless increased, seem likely to raise costs of provision, challenge investment decisions and increase network congestion.


A number of countries in the region, including Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, have extremely high taxes on mobile services as a result of mobile-specific or ‘luxury’ tax rates.

If spectrum and regulatory needs are met, governments can generate additional revenue of $528.7 million in the Arab Middle East and $383.7 million in North Africa by 2025 from the mobile ecosystem.

Mobile connections in the Arab States grew 32 percent (average annual growth) over the past 10 years to 391 million in 2012 from 19 million connections in 2002.

Tom Phillips, chief government and regulatory affairs officer, GSMA, urged governments to take action to increase spectrum availability and stabilize the regulatory environment.

Mobile adoption has directly contributed $132 billion to the economies of the Arab States, or approximately 5.5 per cent of total GDP, in 2011.

The full-time employment created across the Arab States as a result of the availability of mobile technologies is estimated to have been more than 1.2 million jobs in 2011. If additional harmonized spectrum were allocated to mobile broadband, 5.9 million additional jobs could be created by 2025.

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