Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/04/2013 -- BMI View: Despite some of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, UAE continues to post strong growth in terms of mobile subscriber numbers - although the vast majority of these are on prepaid packages. Both operators are investing in the development of their network infrastructure, and this increased investment will help the market expand, particularly in terms of mobile broadband.
Competition in the market is limited as there are only two mobile phone operators in the country, with the government owning shares in both of them. In October 2012, the regulator confirmed that there are no plans to for a third operator to launch services. Fixed-line services continue to post single digit growth, although we forecast that this will taper off during the course of our forecast period, while broadband is another strong growth area.
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- The mobile market continues to post growth, despite the fact that penetration rates are high. In Q312, q-o-q growth stood at 2.1% while y-o-y growth was 15.5%.
- The fixed-line sector maintained positive growth in Q312, expanding by 7.7%, despite the ever increasing threat from fixed to mobile substitution. This does represent a loss of 13,000 subscribers q-o-q, however.
- Broadband subscriptions rose by 8.8% y-o-y during Q312, highlighting the strong demand for data services in the country. Operators are responding with faster download speeds.
The UAE dropped to 6th position in this quarter's update to BMI's Risk/Reward Ratings (RRR) table. The UAE's mobile market experienced strong subscriber growth and a slight uptick in ARPU during 2011, but the country continues to be held back by its low Industry Risk score. Government involvement in the telecoms sector is high - it has a stake in both of the country's operators - so there are few incentives, or opportunities, for external investment.
The UAE has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, with the latest data from the regulator, TRA, putting the mobile penetration rate at 159% at the end of August 2012. BMI expects that these figures will be revised in 2013, when operators will be obliged to disconnect unregistered mobile phones.
Second-ranked operator du concluded trials on its 4G LTE network in October 2012; in the same month Etisalat launched its first 4G LTE Mobile WiFi device. .
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