Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/30/2014 -- Saudi Arabia's mobile market had grown beyond maturity as the country's mobile operators continued to build their subscriber bases. The latest data show that this trend is ending and we expect operators to focus their efforts on building revenues from existing subscribers. BMI has observed a number of developments that show operators are keen to build revenues on the back of growing demand for data and content, a strategy we believe will provide long term market value growth. While subscription numbers are expected to slow significantly, the value of subscribers will increase according to BMI's forecasts.
- Mobile subscriptions declined in Q313 but BMI estimates the market recovered in the final quarter of the year to reduce the overall decline in the market. Modest growth is forecast for 2014-2018 with 58.7mn connections forecast for end-2018.
- Fixed-line subscriptions declined in the residential sector and we revised forecasts to reflect an earlier decline than previously expected. Bundled services will remain the key supporting factor to sustain the market.
- Dedicated mobile broadband accounts for th largest share of subscriptions and continues to demonstrate robust growth. We revise up forecasts this quarter expecting to see 16.8mn fixed and mobile broadband connections by 2018.
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Saudi Arabia fell to second in BMI's Risk/Reward Ratings (RRR) table for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in our Q313 update. The country's score benefits from strong voice and data subscriptions growth, partly fuelled by seasonal demand during religious festivals. The country's lowest score, albeit higher than the regional average, is in the industry risks category and reflects the government's significant interest in the telecoms sector through its majority stake in the incumbent operator.
Key Trends And Developments
Operators are looking beyond traditional consumer voice and data services with Mobily announcing the launch of its M2M platform in March 2014. The company announced its partnership with Jasper Wireless in 2013. Mobily initially intends to target the automotive, healthcare, construction and utilities sectors with its M2M services.
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