Bahrain leads in net connectivity

BAHRAIN is one of the world’s most connected nations, with Internet usage rate just shy of 100 per cent, according to a new report.

The kingdom is also the second-best in the GCC, after Kuwait, in terms of households with Internet access, said the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).


A report by the UN specialised agency and standard-setter for information and communications technology (ICT) said Bahrain is among the world’s most vibrant and advanced markets for ICT services, with high penetration of mobile cellular and broadband Internet, low prices, and a top performing regulator – the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

As ‘online everything’ has become the new way of life since the onset of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in March last year, the kingdom has seen a 35pc surge in total data traffic to 303,984,984 gigabyte (GB) at the end of the first quarter this year, from 224,783,318 GB as of end-Q1 2020, revealed the TRA’s latest Main Market Indicators report.

The number of mobile subscriptions was 1,782,117 by end-March 2021, while the number of fixed line subscriptions reached 226,964.

Likewise, active mobile broadband subscriptions were 1,754,672, whereas fixed broadband numbers had risen to 149,058, with 10 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in Q1 2021.

Data transfer rates per Internet user in Bahrain, as measured by kilobits per second (Kbps), have increased by more than 45.4pc annually since 2015, the fastest in the GCC, notes the ITU’s ‘Digital Trends in the Arab States Region 2021’ report.

Bahrain, Iraq and Qatar are also the only three in the region delivering advertised download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher, it added.

The country has also been cited as among the best regionally in giving the community affordable access to ICT services.

This is based on Bahrain meeting the UN affordability target of two per cent gross national income (GNI) per capita across all ICT packages measured.

The GNI per capita is the dollar value of a country’s final income in a year, divided by its population.

The report also scores Bahrain as the best in data value per gigabyte (GB) within the GCC, and second in the Gulf (eighth in the world) for affordability of basic mobile cellular packages.

Relative to income, Bahrain has one of the most affordable mobile-data baskets in the region, well under the 2pc UN Broadband Commission affordability target in terms of GNI per capita.

It is also among only five countries in the Middle East to already achieve the 2025 target on price of entry-level broadband access.

The kingdom also leads with its 20 GB monthly data allowance – the highest in the region – at the lowest prices.

Highlighting the crucial role of digital connectivity in keeping societies functioning, another ITU report said countries with top connectivity infrastructure like Bahrain could see up to half of the negative economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic mitigated.

The study, titled ‘Economic impact of Covid-19 on digital infrastructure’, said the pandemic has forced a greater demand for digital reliance across the board.


This outcome is likely here to stay in the ‘new normal’ as the utility of more abundant data and the lowering transaction costs of using those data affect how entrepreneurs, policy-makers and professionals make decisions, it said.

The GDN reported in October 2019 that 99pc of Bahrain’s population was connected to the Internet as a result of lower tariffs for getting online.




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