UAE broadband usage catching up, while narrowband leads

Aggregate broadband users form just 11% of total internet users in UAE, but broadband usage is forecast to grow 62% by 2003.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  September 23, 2003

According to usage data released by Etisalat today, the number of small to medium enterprises (SME) that have adopted the new Business One broadband internet packages in the UAE has risen by 25% during the period April-July 2003, from 3,165 to over 4,100. Etisalat attributes this to the re-launch of the Business One package in May this year, when the service was repackaged into five separately priced solutions.

UAE is the fastest adopter of broadband in the Middle East and is expected to grow 53% this year. Madar Research Group estimates that the internet users are to grow 10% to 1.175 million of which 13% will use broadband internet.

Narrowband or dial-up's popularity seems to be fading in the UAE. Emirates Internet & Multimedia's (EIM) dial-up subscribers grew at an average 0.48 percent per month in the same period (Jan 1-May 31, 2003) from 292,000 to 299,000 with a total growth of 5% for 2003. Compare this with broadband Internet users who will grow by 53% in 2003 to form 11% of total users by 2003.

Demand for Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) subscription will lead the way for UAE's broadband market. EIM's Al Shamil broadband package is forecast to grow 62% throughout the year, from 17,175 at end 2002 to 27,884 by 2003.

The UAE internet access market is no different from the global market where narrowband leads by a huge margin. EIM currently has 321,500 (as of May 2003) dial-up subscribers who make up for 93% of its total user base.

According to a report published by the GCC IT regulatory committee aggregate broadband (DSL, ADSL, satellite, VSAT, leased and ISDN lines) or high-speed internet users are estimated, at 109,500 or almost 10% of total Internet users as of May 2003.Madar Research predicts that the share of broadband users will reach 11.3% in 2004.

The demand for broadband with home users is currently being fuelled by downloading MP3s, software, video chatting and multimedia content on the internet. On the business side video-conferencing, constant and reliable access to the internet for SME's where having multiple dial-up connections or leased lines is not feasible is driving corporate broadband usage.

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