The telecommunication sector plays an extremely important role in the UAE’s economy as it contributed nearly five per cent, or Dh5.9 billion, to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011, according to the latest findings of the telecom regulator in the country.
The sector generated employment for 10,798 people in the country and 36 per cent of the total work force hired was UAE nationals, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in its third annual sector review 2008-2011 on Tuesday.
The report summarises the state of the fixed, mobile, and data telecommunications services in the UAE in terms of: subscriber numbers, revenues, usage, and Quality of Service for the years 2008 to 2011. The report also outlines the contribution of the telecommunications sector to the UAE economy and some of the TRA’s key achievements over the past two years.
“This report highlights the continued development of the telecommunications sector of UAE. The many positive trends illustrated within the review is testament to the strategic vision and operational expertise of etisalat and du, and also to the continued oversight of the sector by the TRA,” TRA director-general Mohammed Al Ghanim said.
The UAE had over 1.8 million fixed line subscriptions and the fixed line penetration rate reached 31 per cent, the report said, adding that the number of active mobile subscriptions continued to grow, reaching over 11.7 million by the end of the year.
This represents one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world. In 2011, mobile penetration rate reached 199 per cent. Last year the share of postpaid subscriptions reached 12 per cent of total mobile subscriptions compared to 11 per cent in 2010. The number of active mobile subscriptions increased by 7.3 per cent between 2010-2011. Revenues generated from mobile services increased by 8.3 per cent in 2011, and the majority of the increase comes from the increase in the postpaid revenue which increased by 33.9 per cent compared to the previous year.
Internet services revenue increased by 21.5 per cent in 2011, compared to the previous year with the increase due to the inclusion of DoublePlay (internet & voice) and TriplePlay (internet, voice & IPTV).
Al Ghanim particularly mentioned the performance of the Internet services segment and the fact that subscribers are taking advantage of the high speed, advanced networks that the operators have invested heavily in over the past years.
The number of Internet service subscriptions increased 10.5 per cent to over 1.3 million while the percentage of Internet subscriptions connected by fibre technology increased by 70.8 per cent as customers were migrated from copper networks to new advanced networks. There has also a marked trend of customers subscribing to higher speed Internet services over time.
For example, in 2008 no residential customers had Internet speeds of more than 4 Mbps but by the end of 2011, 47 per cent of subscriptions were at these higher speeds.
Talking about the UAE’s ranking globally and regional level, the report mentioned that the country ranked first of all Arab states in the 2010-2011 Networked Readiness Index, or NRI, study issued by the World Economic Forum. The country also ranked overall 32nd in the world in the 2010 ICT Development Index (IDI). This was the highest to fall GCC and Arab states in the index, according to TRA.
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