Stable markets in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region will continue to invest more in latest communication technologies in 2013 and data service will grow with rapid pace, according to Frost & Sullivan’s yearly analysis.
“Across Mena conflict and social unrest continued to restrict growth… despite the continuing impact of the credit crunch and recession, the wealthier GCC states continued to invest in the latest communications technologies, LTE/4G, Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) as well as high-speed IP/VPN access for enterprises,” said the analysis.
For core services, data will continue its rapid growth as smartphones penetrate further across the region and down towards the bottom of the pyramid. The growth in data revenues will not offset the decline of voice and text, so operators will see continued erosion in Average Revenue per User, or ARPU, unless they can drive usage higher.
Picking apps, especially local ones, to drive interest up is important, delivering quality network coverage remains essential.
Consumers continued to benefit from more advanced and cheaper services in 2012, and whilst the wallet spends on all the new devices being released over Q4 and Q1 will remove some of the edge from communications revenues in 2013, there will be higher usage and new services for the second half of the year, it said.
The study predicted that the year 2013 will be one of division for devices. In late 2012, Windows 8 and Nokia emerged as a threat to the Android/Apple duopoly, but early in 2013, RIM’s Blackberry 10 release will also kick-start a war for that most expensive real-estate, your palm, it added.
Both Windows 8 and BB10 will gain share over Android and Apple, with the Enterprise a real battleground now as IT heads push back on BYOD policies, and try to streamline their support and security efforts. The new Blackberry will make an impact here, as well as in the top-end consumer segment. Apple maybe the loser overall as the status impact of the iPhone5 with its older design wears off and its locked Apps platform turns off CIOs and Apps developers. Also Chinese players ZTE and Huawei will make an impact on the Middle East during the year, indeed pricing may never be the same again.
The challenges of rolling out new networks and the expected lower levels of returns, means that new services will be aggressively marketed, and roll-out will become more commercial in focus. In markets looking beyond 3G, the more successful operators in 2013 will also be the ones that can unlock the power of LTE with in-demand Apps and services. In addition, as more Capex goes out to upgrade networks and traditional revenue streams continue to fall, operators will find it hard to charge high fees for data, or increase prices as users do not want to pay more.
Regional governments now see broadband as essential infrastructure, therefore regulatory requirements on operators for high-speed service roll-out are likely to grow. Governments will view 4G/LTE and FttH as elements of their plans to deliver services to their citizens, as well as to enable operators to make money. Therefore, demands to drive roll-out plans that fit the broadest population spreads rather than the wealthiest areas will be part of government agenda. Similarly, the growth of social media and activism will heighten the focus of governments’ intelligence concerns on telecoms services and also drive more engagement with operators and their services.