By Tawanda Chihota
Given the high level of mobile penetration in the UAE, it remains to be seen what impact a new all-service operator that is set to come to market next year will have.
The UAE’s incumbent telecoms provider Etisalat has reported that its local subscriber base has exceeded 4 million mobile subscribers, translating to a mobile penetration rate of 95%.
“Other countries may have approached a similar level but it is unlikely that any of them had a single telecom operator¸ commented Mohammad Hassan Omran, CEO, Etisalat.
Given the high level of mobile penetration in the UAE, it remains to be seen what impact a new all-service operator that is set to come to market next year will have. The UAE government through state pension funds will hold a 40% stake in the new operator, with the remaining 60% held by private UAE investors. Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (DTMFZ) is expected to be involved in the second licensee and recently announced the acquisition of Sahm Technologies, the wholly owned IT subsidiary of EMAAR Group.
DTMFZ is licensed to provide phone services within its business parks, such as Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and Knowledge Village, and through Dubai Internet City, Sahm’s telecoms operations will continue to be available to residents in EMAAR properties. The new management of the services will be phased in gradually.