By Andy Sambidge
New research reveals 600% increase since 2001, further growth expect by 2010.
Internet use in the Middle East is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world, new research reveals.
During the last six years, the number of people using the Web in the region soared by more than 600 percent, three times higher than the global average increase, according to Middle East Broadband Forecast to 2010, a report by researcher RNCOS says.
The report says rapidly falling broadband access charges and continuous efforts to upgrade the network infrastructure are the key reasons fostering impressive growth in the Middle East broadband market.
As a result, the number of broadband subscribers increased by an estimated 48 percent in 2007 compared to the previous year and the number of broadband subscribers is predicted to surge at a rate of about 50 percent during the next three years.
Israel dominated the Middle East broadband market with the highest number of broadband subscribers in 2007, followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.
Egypt is anticipated to report highest growth in its broadband subscriber base among the Middle East countries with a predicted growth rate of more than 83 percent from 2008-2010.
And the region says the total number of 3G subscribers in the region is expected to surpass four million by the end of 2010, growing at a rate of around 60 percent.
Overall, says the report, the Middle East broadband market is poised to grow at rapid pace with the backdrop of positive economic outlook and increased market liberalisation.
"The aggressive developments in the field of technology by the Gulf countries to change their image from oil-rich countries to technologically-developed nations has created huge opportunities for domestic as well as foreign players seeking to make way into these potential markets," the report adds.
However, variations in the speed with which this is occurring has led to wide disparities in broadband penetration rates from state to state, the research report added.
The RNCOS research covered markets including Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain and Iran.