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UAE introduces fixed network sharing agreement
The United Arab Emirates is one of the most advanced telecoms sector in the Middle East and with a government actively supporting Smart City and Digital Transformation initiatives – the future for the sector continues to look bright. This is assisted by the high rate of fibre penetration in the Emirates, where around 85% of all fixed broadband subscribes utilise FttH/FttP.
A milestone was reached in October 2015 when the TRA announced it had implemented fixed network sharing across the UAE. Both Etisalat and Du are now able to utilise fixed infrastructure and market services across all locations. This signalled the end of six years of negotiations between the TRA and the operators. While the arrangement does not currently include Pay TV it is expected this will become included by the end of 2016.
The UAE possesses a strong mobile market which includes high smart phone penetration. The focus of the operators in recent times has been revenue growth through offering increased service options such as bundling aimed at increasing mobile data usage. Their efforts are succeeding with mobile data now making up over 30% of both Etisalat’s and du’s mobile services revenue in the UAE.
Further opportunities for telecoms in the UAE exist around the growing enterprise sector, underpinned by a high number of SME’s operating in the country. In particular there is a growing need for data centre and managed services, along with M2M solutions and increased mobile broadband offerings.
The UAE government at both federal and emirate level has been proactive in the digital economy and digital media sectors, with programs to encourage computer and internet use. Like other countries in the Middle East, the UAE aims to transition into a ‘knowledge based and highly productive economy’ by 2021.
Generally speaking, e-commerce is growing in the stabilised markets of the Middle East and the UAE’s growing wealth and internet usage have spurred the development of e-commerce, with more and more shoppers being attracted by the value of online purchases, secure payment facilities, the reputation of the website, and the speed of transactions. The United Arab Emirates is also a prime location for the rise of streaming video and video-on-demand services due to its strong mobile and fixed infrastructure and a population which traditionally enjoys TV and entertainment.
Key telecom parameters – 2012; 2015
Sector | 2012 | 2015
Subscribers to telecoms services (million):
Fixed Broadband | .95 | 1.15
Fixed-line telephony | 1.97 | 2.12
Mobile phone | 13.78 | 18.00
(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU)
Government services are actively being transitioned to offer online digital and mobile services, with over 95% of important government services offering m-government solutions.
Smart phone penetration has reached around 70% of all registered handsets.
Du and Etisalat are both demonstrating an interest in developing 5G and have developed various partnerships.
In 2015 du announced it had finished testing on its IoT network which uses nationally deployed sensors to relay data - and paves the way for smarter management of parking, waste and lighting.
Etisalat has over 11 million subscribers in the UAE.
Etisalat began offering a sub brand called FIVE in recent years and this calling card offers lower tariffs, per second billing and competitive rates for international calls.
Du is implementing WiFi UAE which provides free WiFi access in public places to all UAE residents.
Yahsat plans to launch its third satellite, Al Yah 3 by the end of 2016 which will extend its coverage to Brazil and another 16 markets in Africa.
Companies covered in this report include:
Etisalat, du, Yahsat, Thuraya, Icflix, Netflix, Starz Play, OSN, eLife.
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