Fibre and LTE propel broadband in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long held the distinction of possessing a well-developed and technologically advanced telecommunications sector with high mobile, telephone and Internet penetration. Competition is driving market development, with incumbent Etisalat competing against Yahsat and quad play provider du.

Fixed broadband services are well developed with fibre representing over a third of all fixed broadband subscriptions. Both Etisalat and du have deployed FttX networks to connect almost all households. In coming years subscribers can expect faster speeds as over three quarters of fixed home broadband subscriptions are on 8Mb/s or less.

Widely accessible Internet access has fostered development of the digital economy, encompassing e-commerce, e-government, e-health and e-learning. The UAE has also taken the initiative in implementing smart cities infrastructure, deploying smart grid technology and launching an ambitious plan to develop Masdar City, a new zero carbon, zero waste city powered entirely by renewable energy sources.

Despite widespread availability of satellite TV both Etisalat and du are using their fibre networks to market broadband TV (IPTV) services, with subscriber numbers steadily increasing from a small base. Faster broadband speeds are also supporting nascent web based Video-on-Demand (VoD) platforms.

Mobile penetration levels in the UAE are among the world’s highest, largely due to a very large and fluid expatriate population. The market is a duopoly with Etisalat and du boasting almost equal market share. Both operators offer mobile broadband services underpinned by competing HSPA/LTE networks. Both operators have also focused on mobile content and applications, with the number Near Field Communication (NFC) application deployments growing.

Key telecom parameters – 2010; 2013




Subscribers to telecoms services (million):
Broadband 0.79 0.97
Fixed-line telephony 1.48 1.75
Mobile phone 10.93 12.39

(Source: BuddeComm)

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: United Arab Emirates – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


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