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Inventory of FTTH in Middle East

30/12/2010
256 150 FTTH/B subscribers over more than 1 million Homes Passed
FTTx Watch Service


In the Middle East, UAE are the main FTTH/B market, representing more than 89% of total Homes Passed and 96% of subscribers in the region. In other countries, FTTH/B deployments are very limited and mainly due to incumbents and housing companies. On their part, municipalities, which initiated most of the FTTH/B projects in Europe, do not seem to get highly involved in deployments. The ultra-fast broadband market continues to develop quickly in most regions around the globe, in terms of both subscribers and homes passed.

As in previous years, IDATE has been commissioned by the FTTH Council Europe to provide an overview of the status of FTTH rollouts across Middle East at 2Q and 3Q 2010.

At end September 2010, there were 256,150 FTTH/B subscribers over more than 1 million Homes Passed in the region.

To date, IDATE has identified about 30 FTTH/B  projects in the region. Among those projects, 10 count more than 2,500 Homes/Buildings Passed

Incumbents are the main involved players and represent about 65% of total Homes/Buildings Passed at 3Q2010. Among other players, housing companies and real estate developers seem to have a great interest in FTTH/B which can increase value of their buildings.

A part for some specific groups involved in the reconstruction of some cities (e.g. in Lebanon), municipalities are clearly not involved in FTTH/B deployment in Middle East. Regarding utilities, we must notice that some have shown their interest in FTTH/B deployments, such as Haya Water in Oman and EWA in Barhain.

Deployments have increased less rapidly than new subscriptions during first half 2010 (respectively +25% and +59%) and we noted a real slowdown during the third quarter, which can be explained by the shortness of economical activity during Ramadan.

On the contrary to European incumbents, which, in most cases, have began deploying FTTx infrastructure several months after alternative telcos in order to keep their leadership in the broadband market, competition in Middle East is clearly not a driver for FTTH/B expansion in the region.
Incumbents mainly consider FTTH/B has a real differentiator that can help confirm their dynamism on the international scene, more than a way to compete nationally against alternative operators.

Some of them, such as Etisalat, are indeed acting very aggressively on the FTTH/B market and, thanks to its involvement and this of its main competitor Du, it has helped UAE entering the Global Ranking : the part of FTTH/B subscribers in total households has exceeded 30% in September 2010. We also to notice that penetration rate in Middle East with 24,5% in June 2010 is better than in Europe.

A part from UAE, some countries are beginning to show their ambitions regarding FTTH/B as Qatar for instance, where incumbent QTel announced its plan to invest 600 million QR (about 126 million EUR) in the first phase of its new FTTH/B program which aims to provide massively FTTH/B access to households by end 2013.

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The Middle East FTTH/B market is still in its infancy. UAE is clearly a country a part, thanks to the involvement of both the incumbent Etisalat and its main challenger Du.

In other countries, housing companies and real estate developers are much more involved than others players as FTTH/B is considered as value-added for their new housing programs.
Then some utilities take the advantage of their knowledge in civil works to enter this new market.
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Roland MONTAGNE
Director of the Telecom Business unit
P: +33 (0)467 144 426
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