New research from the Arab Advisors Group reveals a somewhat lackluster deployment of MMS services in the region. SMS, which is widely deployed and used, is priced quite differently across the region. Sudan and Palestine have the lowest SMS rates, while Morocco and Lebanon have the highest.
The research shows that Morocco’s SMS tariffs are the highest being 188% above the regional average as calculated by Arab Advisors. Morocco is followed by Lebanon (89% above the regional average), Syria (67%), Saudi Arabia (15%), Algeria (14%) and Qatar (7%), UAE (-11% i.e. below the regional average), Libya (-14%), Yemen (-18%), Tunisia and Iraq (-27%), Oman (-34%), Bahrain and Egypt (-38%), Jordan (-39%), Kuwait (-42%), Sudan (-45%) and Palestine (-47%).
Unlike the SMS service that is provided by all the operators, only 19 out of 34 cellular operators in the covered region provided MMS by end of 2004. The service, for many operators, is only provided on the same network without the ability for cross network MMS sending.
A new report, “SMS & MMS Rates and Services in the Arab World” was released on January 16, 2005. It provides a detailed regional comparison and analysis of the Short Messaging Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) rates and value added offerings in the Arab region. The report covers 34 cellular operators in the following 18 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.
“The Arab Advisors Group’s regional analysis shows that the average rate of national SMS for the studied Arab cellular operators is US$ 0.088 for prepaid and US$ 0.074 for postpaid subscriptions, while the average rate of international SMS stands at US$ 0.179 for prepaid compared to US$ 0.156 for postpaid subscriptions. International SMS rate is, on average, double the rate of national SMS for both prepaid and postpaid subscriptions.” Ms. Serene Zawaydeh, Arab Advisors Senior Research Analyst wrote in the report.
“Sudan’s cellular operator, Mobitel, has the lowest rate for national prepaid and postpaid SMS at US$ 0.022. Libya’s cellular operator, Al-Madar, has the lowest rate for international prepaid and postpaid SMS at US$ 0.040. Lebanon and Morocco lie at the other end with the highest SMS rates in the region. Lebanon’s cellular operator, Alfa (previously Cellis), has the highest rates for national prepaid and postpaid SMS, which are US$ 0.270 and US$ 0.220 respectively. Both cellular operators in Morocco, Maroc Telecom and Médi Telecom, have the same rates for international SMS, the highest in the region, which are US$ 0.571 for both prepaid and postpaid subscriptions.” Ms. Zawaydeh added.