Qatar shows marked growth in mobile broadband penetration
Mobile broadband penetration in Qatar improved significantly between 2013 and 2014, going up from 76.8 mobile connections per 100 people to 106.3 in 2014, according to the 2015 edition of the The State of Broadband report released recently by the Broadband Commission, reports M. Iqbal.
This spike of 29.5 points is even more significant considering the fact that the increase from 2012 to 2013 was just 4.7 points and the increase from 2011 to 2012 was 11.1 points.
Rank-wise, Qatar’s number slipped from 10 in 2011 to 15 in 2014, but given that the country only has two telecom operators offering mostly similar packages and services across the spectrum to their customers, there is little incentive for people to have more than one mobile broadband connection – this number thus may already be close to its potential saturation level given the current telecommunication setup in the country.
Qatar has also reclaimed the top spot among developing nations for the percentage of people using Internet. About 91.5 percent of the people living in Qatar in 2014 accessed the Internet, according to the report. This puts it ahead of Bahrain at number two and United Arab Emirates at number three. Worldwide, Qatar’s rank for the markers went up from 17 in 2013 to 12 in 2014.
The country was number one when the report was first launched, with 86.2 percent of the people in the country in 2011 using Internet and continued with its strong run in 2012 with 88.1 percent of the people accessing the Internet. Its rank had fallen in 2013 as the percentage of people accessing the Internet fell to 85.3 percent.
Qatar has also improved its already-good percentage of households with Internet from 96.4 percent to 98 percent (maintaining a rank of number two among developing nations, behind South Korea). Since 2011, the percentage of households with access to the Internet has gone up by 14.4 percentage points, from 83.6 percent.
One area where Qatar has failed to show any remarkable improvement since the report first launched is in the Fixed Broadband Penetration. In 2011, the country had 8.7 broadband connections per 100 people. The number fell down to 8.2 in 2012. It went up to 9.9 in 2013 and has stayed steady through 2014. The country’s rank, meanwhile, has slipped from 66 in 2011 to 81 in 2014.
In comparison, Saudi Arabia and UAE are rated slightly better, with 10.4 and 11.5 broadband connections per 100 people, respectively. Bahrain is almost twice as good with 21.4 connections per 100 people, which is still a far cry from the world’s best of 46.8 (Monaco).
Qatar is actively targeting this area with its National Broadband Plan, which it announced December 2013. The 10-year-plan aims to offer all residents of Qatar a choice of at least two broadband service providers by 2016. The plan also aims to make affordable 100 mbps Internet connections available to 95 percent of households in Qatar, in addition to at least 1 gbps Internet speeds for businesses, schools, hospitals and government institutions.
That said, Qatar’s performance on the Fixed Broadband Penetration will continue to remain low, as a large portion of its approximate 2.3 million population comprises transient workers, who live primarily in dormitory compounds with multiple people per room.