Connecting to the internet and using phones in Bahrain

Updated 2020-02-24 12:19

New expats in Bahrain will want to get connected as soon as they arrive, to stay in touch with friends and family. Communications in Bahrain are modern and of a very high standard, with 5G service a recent introduction.

As elsewhere in the world, the telecom industry in Bahrain is ever-expanding and fast-changing. Service providers spring up all the time but are quite often absorbed by larger companies. The leading players are Batelco (the state-owned operator), Zain, and Viva.

Landlines in Bahrain

Internet and phone services in Bahrain are generally fast and reliable. For home phone lines, the only provider for landlines is the government-owned Batelco. However, in an increasingly mobile world, many expats choose to forego a landline and use only a mobile phone.

Mobile phones in Bahrain

Mobile phones, as in many countries, are prevalent in Bahrain. If you wish to sign up with a provider for a contract, there are a range of options, with the most popular being Batelco, Viva, and Zain.

All mobile phone numbers in Bahrain are registered to the purchaser. It is possible to purchase a pay-as-you-go or prepaid card by showing your passport on arrival at the airport, and there are outlets for Batelco, Zain, and Viva after leaving the customs hall. At some point, you are likely to be required to register your fingerprint with the phone company, which can be done at any of their outlets.

For postpaid numbers, it is necessary to sign a contract. For this, you will need to provide proof of residency, your CPR (Central Population Register, your Bahrain ID card), and register your personal details. Plans are competitive and reasonably priced. Compare providers before making a decision, to ensure you can find a plan that best meets your needs. Pay particular attention to international call charges and data allowances.

If you already have a mobile device, sim-only deals are available on both pre and postpaid plans. Prepaid sim cards can be found in mobile phone and electronics shops, and often provide a defined amount of talk time minutes and texts per month as well as internet data.

Mobile prepaid packages start at BHD6.3/month; postpaid packages start at BHD8/month. Internet and free minutes are included.

Internet in Bahrain

Batelco is one of the country's largest providers for home internet and was the sole provider for several years. However, the field has now opened up to competition, with Viva and Zain as the other two main players in the field. Until recently, the only provider of fibre-optic broadband was Batelco, but a recent restructuring of the company into two separate units, focusing on retail and wholesale operations, means that the wholesale company, BNET, will provide fibre broadband network services to all licensed operators, including Batelco. Batelco will focus solely on retail operations. The aim is to provide internet access speeds of at least 100Mbps for up to 95% of homes in Bahrain, not restricted to one operator.

Both Zain and Viva currently provide high-speed broadband via 4G and 5G wireless routers using mobile networks. The advantage of this method is the router can be placed for optimum reception where it best suits the user. Fibre optic routers must be located where the cable terminates in the property and may require boosters to reach all rooms.

Home broadband starts at BHD10/month for wireless and BHD15.75 for Superfast Fibre.

 Good to know: 

The internet is monitored in Bahrain, and the government actively censors certain websites, tv programmes, and films.

The international country code for Bahrain is 973.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications

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