United Arab Emirates - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Executive summary

UAE mobile operators strive for revenue growth in a saturated market

The UAE has a very strong mobile market and it is closely guarded by the two major operators of Etisalat and du. In 2018 both Etisalat and du are demonstrating keen interest in developing 5G technology and are strongly supported by the TRA which has identified the spectrum bands which will be made available for deployment.

Both operators are majority owned by the government. In 2017 the first two MVNOs began offering services in the UAE – however this has not impacted upon competition in any significant way as both are wholly owned either by du and Etisalat. The operators however are facing challenges with the saturated mobile market stifling voice growth.

Etisalat and du have both deployed sophisticated HSPA+ and LTE networks that cover most of the population, underpinning growth opportunities centred on mobile broadband, content and applications. Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular, accounting for the majority of the mobile handsets. The growing availability of low cost smart phones has driven mobile broadband penetration up sharply in the last couple of years.

The well-established fibre-broadband network in the UAE is providing the operators with opportunities to grow new services and offerings such as triple-play.

Key developments:

  • Recently the TRA was encouraging affordable roaming rates within GCC countries;
  • In 2018 Etisalat sold its 28% share of Thuraya;
  • The UAE has attracted international interest from data centre operators;
  • Licensed VoIP offerings were launched by the operators in 2017;
  • The UAE hopes to commercially launch 5G in 2020.

Companies mentioned in this report include:

Etisalat; du; Thuraya; Yahsat; Virgin Mobile; Swyp.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Executive summary
  • 2. Key statistics
  • 3. Country overview
  • 4. Telecommunications market
    • 4.1 Historical overview
    • 4.2 Market analysis
    • 4.3 Key recent developments
  • 5. Regulatory environment
    • 5.1 Historic overview
    • 5.2 Regulatory authority
    • 5.3 Draft bill for new authority
    • 5.4 Telecom sector liberalisation
      • 5.4.1 Second operator
      • 5.4.2 Third operator
      • 5.4.3 Satellite licence
    • 5.5 Interconnect and access
    • 5.6 Fibre access
    • 5.7 Number Portability (NP)
    • 5.8 Royalty payments
    • 5.9 Censorship
    • 5.10 Roaming tariff reduction
  • 6. Fixed network operators
    • 6.1 Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat)
    • 6.2 Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company/du
    • 6.3 Yahsat
  • 7. Telecommunications infrastructure
    • 7.1 Overview of the national telecom network
      • 7.1.1 Fixed-line statistics
    • 7.2 International infrastructure
      • 7.2.1 Submarine cable networks
      • 7.2.2 Terrestrial cable networks
      • 7.2.3 Satellites
    • 7.3 Data centres, cloud computing
    • 7.4 Smart infrastructure
    • 7.5 Smart grids
    • 7.6 Smart cities
      • 7.6.1 Masdar City
    • 7.7 Connected homes
  • 8. Fixed broadband market
    • 8.1 Introduction and statistical overview
      • 8.1.1 Market analysis
      • 8.1.2 Broadband statistics
    • 8.2 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) and Fibre-To-The-Home (FttH)
    • 8.3 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
    • 8.4 Other fixed broadband services
    • 8.5 Fixed wireless (WiFi, WiMAX)
  • 9. Digital economy
    • 9.1 e-Health
  • 10. Digital media
    • 10.1 Video-streaming
      • 10.1.1 Media Zones
    • 10.2 VoIP
  • 11. Mobile market
    • 11.1 Market analysis
    • 11.2 Mobile statistics
    • 11.3 Mobile voice
      • 11.3.1 Prepaid
    • 11.4 Mobile data
      • 11.4.1 SMS and MMS
      • 11.4.2 OTT messaging services
    • 11.5 Mobile broadband statistics
    • 11.6 Mobile infrastructure
      • 11.6.1 Brief intro analogue networks
      • 11.6.2 Digital networks
    • 11.7 Major mobile operators
      • 11.7.1 Etisalat
      • 11.7.2 du (Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company)
      • 11.7.3 MVNOs
    • 11.8 Mobile content and applications
      • 11.8.1 M-commerce
      • 11.8.2 M-payments
    • 11.9 Mobile handsets
  • 12. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities – United Arab Emirates – 2018
  • Table 2 – UAE – GDP and inflation – 2012 - 2018
  • Table 3 – UAE – telecommunications revenue – 2007 - 2016
  • Table 4 – Etisalat group revenue and net profit – 2005 – 1H 2018
  • Table 5 – Etisalat – UAE fixed broadband subscribers – 2010 – 1H 2018
  • Table 6 – du revenue breakdown and profit/loss – 2008 – 2017
  • Table 7 – du fixed line subscribers – 2007 - 2017
  • Table 8 – du fixed line subscriber market share service breakdown – 2014; 2016
  • Table 9 – UAE – fixed lines in service and teledensity – 1995 - 2018
  • Table 10 – UAE – domestic and international voice revenue – 2008 - 2015
  • Table 11 – UAE – international telephone revenues – 2008 - 2015
  • Table 12 – UAE – monthly fixed-line ARPU and MOU – 2008 - 2015
  • Table 13 – UAE – internet users and penetration – 1998 - 2018
  • Table 14 – UAE – fixed broadband subscribers and penetration – 2001 - 2018
  • Table 15 – UAE – international internet bandwidth – 2006 - 2016
  • Table 16 – UAE – Subscribers to FttH/FttB – 2015 - 2017
  • Table 17 – UAE – Operators fibre broadband market share – 2015 - 2017
  • Table 18 – UAE – DSL subscriptions in decline – 2008 -2018
  • Table 19 – UAE - Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1995 - 2007
  • Table 20 – UAE - Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2005 – 2018
  • Table 21 – UAE – mobile revenue and ARPU – 2008 - 2015
  • Table 22 – UAE – prepaid vs postpaid revenue – 2008 - 2015
  • Table 23 – UAE – prepaid subscribers – 2005 – 2018
  • Table 24 – UAE – SMS and MMS sent – 2007 - 2015
  • Table 25 – UAE – mobile broadband subscribers and penetration – 2010 - 2017
  • Table 26 – UAE is one of the leading countries working towards 5G in the Middle East
  • Table 27 – UAE – mobile operators’ market share by subscribers – 2010 – 1H 2018
  • Table 28 – Etisalat (UAE) mobile subscribers and blended ARPU – 2011 – Q2 2018
  • Table 29 – du mobile revenue – 2009 – 2017
  • Table 30 – du mobile subscribers – 2010 – 2017
  • Table 31 – Historical - du mobile minutes of use (MOU) – 2010 - 2014
  • Table 32 – UAE – handset manufacturers’ market share – 2013; 2015; 2017
  • Chart 1 – Market share by mobile subscribers – Etisalat and du - 2017
  • Exhibit 1 – UAE – submarine cable networks

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