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[ClickPress, Mon Apr 25 2016] We retai n a generally positive outlook f or the UAE telecommunications marketin g our Q2 2016 report update. The UAE benefits from having strong GDP per capita, high disposable incomes and a strong influx of migrant population. Despite market maturity and a very high penetration rate, we retain our positive outlook over the course of our forecast period out to 2020. Furthermore, Etisalat and du, the tw o operat o rs in the country are aggressively competing against each other whilst investing heavy sums into technological innovation, capital investments and launching new products and services. We believe that the high degree of competition has le d to significant advancement in technologi c al uptake in the country. We anticipate that continued 4G and 4.5G/LTE-Advanced growth in the latter years of our forecast will drive the market forward, further propelled by price cuts and advances in VAS and contents offered.
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In 2015 the UAE mobile market saw a net increase of 737,000 subscribers. This is based on data reported by Etisalat and du, as well as the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). We estimate that the total number of mobile subscriptions reached 17.12mn by the end of 2015, equivalent to a penetration rate of 187%. We expect the UAE mobile market to maintain positive growth throughout our forecast period, through to 2020, due to strong competition between Etisalat and du, as well as the continued influx of migrant workers and temporary visitors on the back of an improving economy, a stable political environment and major events in the country, such as the Dubai 2020 World Trade Expo. Nevertheless, we caution that the market contains a significant number of inactive subscriptions and SIM cards that have not yet been discounted. As such, they may be artificially inflating the penetration rate.
Etisalat and du are both aggressively investing into advanced capabilities, cloud computing services and inking industry contracts to develop existing infrastructure and to make their services future-proof as they look to support the national Vision2021 agenda by offering increased mobile services and fixed capabilities across the Gulf nation.
In October 2015, it was announced that Etisalat and du would allow increased competition among fixed line services to clients by allowing them to choose their services provider within nine to 12 months.
By the end of 2020 we expect the number of mobile subscriptions to rise to 18.18mn. Growth across the market as a whole will be driven by migration to 3G/4G services and by a trend towards the use of multiple SIM-connected devices. Although mobile average revenues per user (ARPU s ) will continue to decline, we expect the pace of decline to become much more gradual as ARPU contraction becomes offset by growing consumer appetite for mobile data services.
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