2014 Key Developments in Africa and Middle East

With introduction of 3G and 4G mobile technology, broadband Internet access in Africa has become a reality. Voice calls are at low prices, however broadband services have remained expensive due to lack of international and local fibre optic infrastructure. This is now changing, and digital economies similar to the ones found in the Middle East no doubt will develop in Africa. Read the report summary.

Jordan Telecommunications, Mobile and Broadband

Jordan is a standout country in the region for its relatively well-developed telecoms sector when one considers its lower GDP per capita. Mobile penetration is at around 100%. The government is also making strenuous efforts to encourage Internet penetration growth, so far with little increase in subscriber numbers.

The market is the most liberalised in the region. Incumbent JTG, operating as Orange Jordan, has been privatised and France Telecom owns a controlling 51% share. Competition is allowed in all sectors of the market. In the fixed-line sector alternative operators have acquired licences but have yet to make much impact. Mostly they offer VoIP services and compete in the long-distance voice market, often the first market where an incumbent would lose market share upon market liberalisation.

Competition also exists in the broadband market at a retail level, although JTG’s ISP has a 50% market share. JTG has reduced its wholesale prices considerably, with a 70% reduction from the beginning of 2007 to June 2009.

Licensed WiMAX operators are beginning to make inroads into the market, with over 17% market share of the small broadband market by late 2009. WiMAX operator Mada Communications offers subscribers free unlimited VoIP calls to other Mada subscribers and competitive rates on international VoIP calls. WiMAX operators have yet to have the same impact as in the richer markets of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Competition in the mobile market is intense, with four operators, resulting in much reduced prices. This in turn led to very high subscriber numbers. JTG was awarded a 3G licence in August 2009. A tender for this single licence closed in June 2009 but attracted only one bid, from JTG, which the regulator said did not meet the technical or financial criteria of the tender. Later negotiations resulted in the award to JTG and services were launched in early March 2010. Read more.