Middle East's broadband penetration to triple in five years

PC sales to grow as a result of connectivity boost, according to Intel's general manager for the Middle East

Tags: Intel CorporationPC ShipmentsSaudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates
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Middle East's broadband penetration to triple in five years GM for the Middle East, Samir Al-Schamma, says connectivity will be key to growth. (Getty Images)
By  George Bevir Published  January 12, 2010

Broadband penetration in the Middle East is set to triple over the next five years, according to Intel's general manager for the Middle East, who says such an increase will help to drive the sale of PCs in the region.

Samir Al-Schamma says that despite the high spending power of many people in the region and a general willingness to adopt new technologies, PC penetration - at around 20% - is low when compared to the rest of the world.

"Part of that has to do with connectivity," Al-Schamma said. "It is a serious problem for us in the Middle East, but it is improving."

A lack of Arabic content was a factor, he added, but the rising popularity of social networking websites and blogs, and people posting their own content such as video online has helped to plug the gap.

UAE incumbent Etisalat's plan to connect every home in the country to its fibre network will have a "significant" impact on the sale of PCs and smaller devices that can connect to the internet, Al-Schamma said.

And he singled out Saudi Arabia as the best example of a country that has tackled the problem of a lack of fixed infrastructure by adopting a forward thinking with an early release of spectrum for WiMAX and increased competition through the licencing of additional operators.

"Wherever there is broadband, typically PC penetration follows," the Intel boss said. "And it's not just one device for every connection, there are multiple devices.

"If you look at the market in the Middle East, in the last five years, in terms of the number of PCs, it tripled. And that is with slow broadband penetration. Given where broadband penetration is going, I would predict that in the next four or five years, it will triple again. So there is a huge opportunity for us."

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