IPTV flourishes in the GCC region

51According to a new report from Arab Advisors Group, 14 service providers in nine countries in the Arab world were offering Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services by October 2013, up from 11 in eight countries offering IPTV by the end of 2011.

IPTV is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet Protocol suite rather than a packet-switched network, such as the internet, instead of being delivered through traditional means, such as satellite, terrestrial or cable.

The study – IPTV in the Arab world 2014 – overviewed the IPTV services in this area by October 2013. It reveals that, as broadband adoption increases in the region, several operators in the Arab world have plans to implement IPTV in the near future. In the GCC region – including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, the FTTH – expansion has triggered strong demand for ‘triple play’ services, which provide a range of utilities, such as broadband, digital television and home phone through a single line.

IPTV is in its initial stages of penetration in the Arab world and is still developing. The nine countries offering IPTV services are Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The adoption of IPTV is flourishing in the GCC region in particular. By September 2013, STC managed to increase its IPTV subscription base by 76 per cent over the corresponding period of 2012. The markets in the UAE and Qatar also registered strong uptake of IPTV services, for example, Ooredoo’s triple play accounts jumped from 31,873 by the end of 2010 to 88,398 by September 2013 – a growth of 177 per cent.

Reportedly, there are ongoing or planned projects by service providers and/or governments in six other countries, with the aim to upgrade the countries’ legacy networks and install fibre optics to facilitate offering services, including IPTV in the near future. These countries are: Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania and Tunisia.

“As broadband internet adoption expands in the Arab world, IPTV becomes a viable option for entertainment. By October 2013, there were 14 service providers in nine countries in the Arab world offering commercial IPTV services. Moreover, there are ongoing or planned projects by service providers and/or governments in six other countries,” says Rawan Awwad, Arab Advisors’ Research Analyst.  “The competition among IPTV service providers within the same country pushes its offered features into frequent upgrades and improvements, which makes the user’s TV viewing experience more flexible and interactive.”

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