United Arab Emirates - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts
OTT services impact upon UAE telecoms market
In 2014, operators in the United Arab Emirates, similar to the rest of the world, are struggling with how to combat the impact of Over-The-Top (OTT) services - which on a global level are beginning to erode operators’ revenues.
In particular, the UAE may well attract international interest in the future from OTT video service providers due to its established and growing broadband population and substantial purchasing power of a tech savvy population. Domestic incumbent Etisalat has already positioned itself in this market with its multi-screen OTT TV and VoD service called eLife.
Broadband access is available via ADSL, Fibre to the Home (FttP), leased lines, WiFi and mobile networks. Broadband is becoming much more prevalent as evidenced by the growing proportion of broadband subscriptions attributed to fibre. Supporting increased broadband usage is an increase in international Internet connectivity.
With the prospect of competition Etisalat reduced its charges to a point where they are relatively low for the region. Despite this, Etisalat continues to dominate the market, representing over 80% of broadband subscriptions.
Mobile voice revenue growth is limited in the UAE due to the already high penetration levels. Both dominant operators, Etisalat and du, have turned their attention to mobile data services and applications. Specific products include mobile broadband and mobile payments with the number Near Field Communication (NFC) application deployments growing.
In October 2013 du had 46% market share of the mobile sector, down from 47% a year earlier. This decline was attributed to an increased focus by Etisalat on its domestic market after a period of international expansion. Both operators have deployed sophisticated HSPA+ and LTE networks.
Recognising the potential of applying ICT to improve both social and economic development, the UAE has taken steps to develop a digital economy. Businesses, governments and private citizens have been instrumental in creating the online content and services that make up the digital economy.
UAE governments at both federal and emirate level has been very interventionist, particularly Dubai, with programs to encourage computer and Internet use. Government policy has included encouragement for IT and Internet related businesses. There has also been a strong emphasis on e-government initiatives, attempting to make most government services accessible online.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year