UAE "has room for GSM growth"

There's plenty of room for growth in the UAE's mobile market, according to the president of Etisalat, with the potential to reach nearly two million subscribers nationwide.

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By  Alex Marklew Published  September 28, 2001

Etisalat's president believes that the United Arab Emirates has the potential to increase GSM penetration up to 80 per cent of the population.

Speaking during celebrations marking the company's silver jubilee, Ali Salim Al Owais said that Etisalat was in the process of building a network that would allow such expansion.

"Over the next two years, Etisalat has earmarked approximately Dh4.1 billion ($1.12 billion) to upgrade its infrastructure."

The nation's GSM capacity will be increased to handle up to 2.5 million users, while the Internet system will be able to cope with 500,000 subscribers. GSM penetration is currently about 55 per cent.

"Our investments in technology, infrastructure and human resources development have formed a solid foundation for a sustainable growth in the new millennium," said Al Owais.

When it was formed in 1976, Etisalat had just 33,000 fixed telephone lines. In the quarter of a century since, this has grown to 1.1 million, as well as 1.7 million mobile subscribers and 250,000 Internet users.

"When Etisalat was founded 25 years ago, no one dreamt that we would have come this far by the end of the millennium," said Al Owais, who said he believes few other organisations anywhere in the world could boast such impressive growth in such a short period of time.

An 80 percent GSM penetration would mean 1.9 million users nationwide.

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