United Arab Emirates - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Report Cover Image

Last updated: 10 Aug 2021 Update History

Report Pages: 128

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

UAE’s telcos pressed to replace Huawei as 5G network vendor

The UAE has a strong mobile market, dominated by Etisalat and du. Both are majority-owned by the government. In a bid to attract additional foreign investment, it was resolved in early 2021 that the stake held by foreigners in the two companies could be increased.

Etisalat and du have deployed LTE networks providing national coverage, while the 5G penetration rate is the second highest globally after China. This has underpinned growth in the mobile broadband sector, and has enabled the strong development in the take-up of rich content and applications, as well as m-commerce. To help increase the capacity of 5G networks in coming years, and so keep up with data demand, the government has allowed for the GSM networks to be closed down and for spectrum and other assets to be re-purposed for 5G by the end of 2022.

The fixed-broadband network in the UAE is dominated by fibre, with DSL having a minor and declining presence. This focus on a fully fibred infrastructure has also facilitated growth in e-commerce, and has supported the government’s long-term aim of transitioning the economy from its dependence on oil to being knowledge-based and supported by digital services.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Regulator confirms plans to close down GSM networks by the end of 2022 and refarm spectrum for 5G;
  • UAE’s telcos increase foreign ownership limit to 49%;
  • UAE enjoying one of the fastest median 5G download speeds globally;
  • Amazon Web Services to open data centres in the UAE in the first half of 2022;
  • Fall in the number of mobile subscribers exacerbated by the pandemic;
  • Telecom regulator encourages affordable roaming rates within GCC countries;
  • Report update includes the regulator’s market data to March 2021, telcos’ financial and operating data to Q2 2021, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of Covid-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report include:

Etisalat; du; Thuraya; Yahsat; Virgin Mobile; Swyp

Related Reports

Share this Report

Purchase with Confidence

I have both worked with Paul and valued his opinion on many occasions. Following, his many comments on the telecommunications industry has been rewarding and insightful. His reports have always been of value and help guide us through the maze of jargon, politics and defined the real road map of this complex industry.

David Hayes, Country Manager - Australia at Bulletin Wireless

Research Methodology

BuddeComm's strategic business reports contain a combination of both primary and secondary research statistics, analyses written by our senior analysts supported by a network of experts, industry contacts and researchers from around the world as well as our own scenario forecasts.

For more details, please see:


Research Methodology

More than 4,000 customers from 140 countries utilise BuddeComm Research

Are you interested in BuddeComm's Custom Research Service?

News & Views

Have the latest telecommunications industry news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to Paul's FREE weekly News & Views.