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GCC markets rank among the best in EMEA for mobile network experience

Our users in five GCC markets, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, have experienced significant improvements in their average overall download speeds in the past year, ranging from 13.6% to 77.6%, while the equivalent experience in the United Arab Emirates has slipped slightly. Users in Bahrain and Qatar also saw significant improvements of over 20% to their already high 5G download speeds, propelling Qatar’s 5G Download Speed well ahead of any compared regional market.

In this analysis, Opensignal evaluates the mobile experience in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets, comparing it to neighboring regional markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). A total of 40 markets are analyzed in this comparison, of which 32 are included in 5G markets comparisons. Following our previous benchmarking of the GCC 5G Experience in June, we delve deeper to assess the overall user experience and track network progress since the previous year. Additionally, we present the mobile network operators that stand out for their exceptional user experience in each GCC market, based on the awards they've earned in Opensignal mobile network experience reports.

User experience with mobile networks is, among other criteria, determined by speed of the connection and availability of the networks. To better understand how the experience of our users in the GCC markets compares to some of the regional counterparts, we show here measures of Availability (the proportion of time our users were connected to either a 3G, 4G or 5G network) against Download Speed Experience metrics. The same is done with the respective 5G counterparts — 5G Availability (the proportion of time our 5G users spend connected to a 5G network) and 5G Download Speed. High speeds on the networks have little impact on user experience if the access is limited in terms of signal availability. However, we observe a well-balanced mobile network experience in the GCC countries, both overall and specifically on 5G networks. Notably, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar emerge as standout high performers for 5G users on the latest generation network.

GCC users see impressive gains in download speeds 

The GCC markets, with the exception of the United Arab Emirates, saw substantial improvements in overall Download Speed Experience in the last year. Our users in five markets saw overall Download Speed Experience increases of over 10%, including a 13.6% increase in Saudi Arabia and 24.3% in Qatar. Average overall download speeds in the United Arab Emirates have deteriorated slightly (-3.7%), with a more marked decline observed with 5G download speeds (-13.1%) — this is the result of a maturing network where congestion and wider geographical coverage tend to drive speeds down from when the 5G networks first become available. 

Three of the GCC states also saw increases in 5G Download Speed, and while our users in Bahrain saw the largest improvement, users in Qatar recorded a very impressive hike in their already outstanding speeds, rising by 20.8% from 276.8Mbps to 334.4Mbps. In terms of 5G speeds, Qatar is currently the leader, with a wide margin over Kuwait and United Arab Emirates that follow behind.



GCC has among the best 5G speeds across the EMEA markets analyzed

Looking at the Download Speed Experience side by side with 34 key markets of the EMEA region, our users in GCC markets have speeds that stand respectably in the middle of the compared markets. The fastest speeds among gulf markets is in Bahrain with 52.4Mbps, followed by Qatar and Kuwait with 48.8Mbps and 47.6Mbps respectively. However, the speeds in the GCC region are most impressive when we look specifically at 5G networks. In all six gulf markets, average 5G download speeds top 200Mbps. In Qatar, at 333.4Mbps, average 5G download speeds are higher in comparison to the other 26 markets, with scaled 5G networks across the EMEA region. 



UAE and Qatar are at the top of the table in both overall Availability — our users are connected to either 3G, 4G or 5G signals 98.9% of the time in these two markets. In three other GCC markets – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, our 5G users spend more than one fifth of their time with an active 5G connection. Top is Kuwait with a 5G Availability of 37.6%. However, the GCC market with the largest land area is Saudi Arabia, which has 22% 5G Availability — and is part of this leading group with the wider region, an impressive achievement for such a sizable market.



GCC Mobile Network Experience Award Trends

Opensignal has been regularly reporting on the state of mobile network experience in the GCC markets, giving out operator awards for experience recorded by our users, in twice-yearly reports. Over time the proportion of awards won by each operator has changed, although most GCC markets see consistency in which operator wins the most Opensignal awards.


Detailed Opensignal analytics on each operator can help operators and regulators track the reasons for these results, and what areas need to be focused on to improve users’ mobile experience.  








The most recent Opensignal Mobile Network Experience reports for GCC markets are: