Lebanon Lands Smack in the Middle of Arab Telecom Penetration (Worthless List)

Following yesterday’s debacle of two contradicting bank rankings (WEF’s Global Competitive Report naming Lebanese banks the safest while at the same time Global Finance mentioning the only safe bank in the Arab World is Kuwait’s NBK), we’ve found oursevles another pointless ranking by the people at the Arab Advisors Group:

The 2009 Total Country Connectivity Measure (TCCM)

  1. UAE 352%
  2. Saudi Arabia 286%
  3. Qatar 254%
  4. Bahrain 250%
  5. Libya 246%
  6. Kuwait 201%
  7. Oman 189%
  8. Algeria 161%
  9. Lebanon 155%
  10. Morocco 149%
  11. Jordan 148%
  12. Tunisia 145%
  13. Syria 142%
  14. Egypt 140%
  15. Palestine 109%
  16. Iraq 100%
  17. Yemen 66%
  18. Sudan 51.2%

According to AAG:

The TCCM is calculated by adding the household mainline penetration, cellular penetration, and Internet user penetration rates in each country, to show the extent of connectivity of individuals in a given country.

So according to the survey, 155% of Lebanese have a mobile, landline and access the Internet. No wait, that can’t be right. OK, wait 155% of Lebanese have a some combination of mobile, landline and Internet. No, that can’t be it either. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way, perhaps its a comparison. Let’s give it a try. Lebanon is ‘better’ than Jordan because telecom rates in Jordan are cheaper and the Internet is faster which is why the Lebanon-version of Google is hosted in Amman. That can’t be right.

Well, I’m stumped. If anyone can help me out, I would greatly appreciate it.

Lebanon has an 155% telecom penetration rate. Not sure what that means. Image used for tongue-in-cheek purposes (get it, Israel penetrates Lebanese telecom industry)

3 Comments
  1. As far as I understand its the sum of the various rates of penetration, calculated independently, eg, 65 out of 100 people have a mobile and 60 homes out of 100 have a land line and 30 people out of 100 have access to the internet. That makes 155. This is meaningless without context as you say. But we can add SOME context by comparison to other countries and to benchmark figures.
    A rate of 300 would be a minimum to imagine that all Lebanese had access to all three telecom services, but it may also indicate some people with two mobile lines whereas others would remain without. There would be some overlap. Full market saturation (ie no more potential for market growth) usually lies above the 100% penetration rate for each channel in telecom, so well above the 300 mark for a combined figure for three services. Looks like the UAE is nearly there.
    As for Iraq with 100%, that means an average of 33% in each domain, but we know that it would be unlikely to have internet but no land line or mobile – a more probably set up would be 33% have a mobile, 33% of homes have a land line and all of the internet users are included in these two groups, leaving 33% with no telecom connectivity at all. Basically the figures don’t speak for themselves, but you can make them talk a bit!

  2. Actually Jad, 155% penetration rate means that every 1 person in lebanon (old, young, whatever) has 1.55 communication lines, be it landline, internet or mobile. So roughly, if u take 2 persons, one of them will have a landline for eg, the other will have a landline and internet line.

    The stats is usually used for mobiles alone too, many countries have reached over 100% for mobile. That means that many many persons there have more than one mobile number.

    • Fair enough, I understood that but it amazes me why telecom analysts love penetration rates when in honesty it means nothing. I could understand where one person owns and uses a single mobile phone, but the Internet and mainline? In itself, it describes nothing. A single broadband connection can be shared among a five-member family, the same goes for a mainline. So therefore these penetration rates are under-valued and thus useless. As for places like the UAE, its cheaper to buy a new SIM than to recharge your phone. I have two SIM cards, one of which I only turn on when my family comes to visit (the phone is switched on 10 days per year). So these statistics will show that I have two mobiles which is incorrect. Instead, statistics such as revenue per subscription would be a much better measurement of market saturation than penetration rates.

What do you think?