AMMAN: Massive cuts in Internet charges are on the way as better services create greater demand throughout the Arab world, say experts.
Arab countries are rapidly increasing their connectivity to global telecommunications services, says the Jordan-based Arab Advisers Group.
Its latest report, entitled International Connectivity in the Arab World, rates the UAE as the Arab world leader in international connectivity measures.
The UAE's communications provider, Etisalat, is ahead of all Arab operators in terms of both international voice circuit capacity and Internet bandwidth capacity, says the report.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt, major regional Internet markets, follow closely, with each country having 16 per cent of the total Internet capacity in the analysed countries.
Other countries analysed in the report were Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Sudan, Syria, Qatar and Tunisia.
Group founder and president Jawad Abbass said the liberalisation of the telecom market in the region would underline the importance of new technologies and services, including a new generation of content-based services that will drive up demand.
"The need for telecom operators to focus on content, interactivity and the required delivery channels is underlined by the fact that enhanced competition will drive down traditional voice revenues," he said.
"Success in the market will increasingly depend on service differentiation, where content and value added services are key."
On the Internet front, the Arab countries examined have a total of 9,329 Mbps (9.3 Gbps) of Internet capacity.
Again, the UAE's Etisalat was the regional leader, followed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Still at relatively low levels of usage per capita, the Arab world's connectivity is, however, growing fast.
Mr Abbass pointed out the future of the telecom market in the Arab world envisaged more adoption of high-speed broadband Internet.
"The new services which are expected to be launched in the coming period and the new competitive landscape in quite a few of the Arab markets, will lead to massive reduction on rates, thus further raising the rates of Internet adoption," he said.
Mr Abbass said this would be a major focus at the group's second Media and Telecommunications Conver-gence Conference, being held in Jordan on June 11 and 12.
More than 300 representatives will share their expertise, success stories, case studies and discuss new opportunities.
On the sidelines of the event is an exhibition, where the sponsors and other participants will showcase their latest products and services.