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Tight competition and regulation limit MVNOs' presence and growth in the Middle East

Published: 2017-10-17

This article explores the presence and development of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the Middle East between 2014 up to September 2017. In this article, the Middle East region covers the following 16 countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen. Generally, we observed that the presence of MVNOs remain limited in the Middle East region due mainly to two factors: firstly the lack of, or in some cases rather the complexity of, government regulations on MVNOs, and secondly the overall mobile market conditions, in particular the tight market competition in most markets. On the first point, for instance, we observed that out of the 16 markets covered, only 7 countries have specific policies on MVNOs so far while the rest do not explicitly allow MVNOs. Secondly, the competition landscape also deterred MVNO presence or survival in some countries. For instance, while MVNOs are allowed in Jordan, they often find themselves in a very tight competition with MNOs so that they eventually fold up due to financial losses as in the case of Friendi mobile.

Published: 2017-10-17



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