Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has issued determinations for two retail broadband internet access markets – consumer (‘mass-market’) and enterprise (business), with immediate effect. The Authority found that no licensee has a position of Significant Market Power (SMP) in the retail consumer broadband market, while it determined that the country’s incumbent PSTN operator Batelco holds SMP in the retail market for business broadband services. The rulings, which supersede decisions made in June 2008 – in which Batelco had been found dominant in all relevant segments – will be reviewed ‘when market conditions warrant it’, the TRA stated in a release. Bahrain’s consumer fixed/fixed-wireless broadband market has been significantly penetrated by WiMAX-based services, while demand for wireline internet has also been eroded due to popularity of cellular 3G/4G mobile broadband services, including those provided by Batelco itself.
The latest market report from the TRA says that at the end of Q3 2013 there were around 178,000 fixed broadband subscriptions in Bahrain, of which 71% were fixed-wireless (WiMAX) broadband subscribers (compared to 69% in Q3 2012 and 64% in Q3 2011). The regulator also reported at the end of September 2013 that standalone mobile broadband subscriptions (e.g. USB dongle or tablet-based services) reached nearly 199,000, up by 0.9% quarter-on-quarter, while mobile broadband users who add on a data package to their voice (mobile handset) service increased by 9.4% q-o-q to 605,000. The TRA also counted nearly 447,000 pay-per-use mobile broadband customers in the quarter, down by 0.5% q-o-q.