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Assessment of spectrum-related support for take-up and usage of mobile broadband services in GCC and other countries

Stela Bokun Principal and Head of Custom Research, Consulting

Report on spectrum and mobile broadband - Gulf CountriesThis latest study from Analysys Mason examines the relationship between spectrum availability/allocation and the take-up and use of mobile broadband services (3G and LTE) across the six Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCCs), as well as across four countries at an earlier stage in the deployment and take-up lifecycle in Asia/the Middle East and four countries in developed markets.

The report findings show how take-up and usage of the mobile broadband service has been affected by spectrum-related support for mobile broadband and how forecast subscriber and traffic needs could be accommodated by the GCCs making more bandwidth available on a wider number of spectrum bands.

The study also discusses the importance of enabling mobile operators to exploit the latest, most widely used mobile technologies, such as carrier aggregation (CA), by working with national regulators to gain access to the most appropriate spectrum available. 

Download the report executive summary or full report on the right. 

Report key recommendations 

To increase mobile broadband take-up and usage and address spectrum shortfalls, national regulators and mobile operators in GCCs could consider working together to:

1. Release 700MHz spectrum for mobile broadband use.

  • The propagation properties of the 700MHz spectrum band means that it is well suited to both wide area networks and to deliver in-building coverage, making it an ideal candidate band for countries that have flat topographies or that lack good fixed broadband infrastructure.
  • In Saudi Arabia, the 700MHz (digital dividend spectrum) is the only available sub-1GHz band for mobile broadband services, due to the occupation of 800MHz. The 700MHz band could be released to mobile operators in Saudi Arabia to deliver LTE-based services, which could also assist the provision of universal access, as promoted by the Communications and IT Commission

2. TDD spectrum in the >2GHz bands (2.3, 2.6, 3.5GHz)

  • This can be used to address the mobile broadband needs in dense urban settings or smaller towns/cities.

3. Make bandwidth available across a wider number of bands to support

  • This will deliver fast download speeds – in particular to meet subscribers’ mobile broadband needs in 2020.
  • Operators in GCCs tend to use two spectrum bands to support LTE-A, which enables some of them to deliver download speeds of up to 225Mbit/s; actual speeds are more typically up to 100Mbit/s. Mobile operators in Kuwait, Oman and Qatar have the opportunity to launch multi-band CA (including three component carriers, or 3CC).

4. Use new spectrum bands (sub-700MHz, 2.7–2.9GHz, L-band and C-band) identified by the GSMA

  • The bands being promoted by mobile operators and vendors as being suitable for mobile broadband services should be used to support mobile broadband services. 
  • These four bands could be used by operators in the GCCs to assist them to address their ITU 2020 spectrum shortfalls.


The six GCCs include: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Other countries in Asia/the Middle East: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. Countries in developed markets: Hong Kong, South Korea, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).