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UAE telcos plan investment drive

Etisalat plans for $1.9bn fibre investment; Du looks for fixed network expansion

UAE operators, Etisalat and Du, plan for additional investments to their networks.
UAE operators, Etisalat and Du, plan for additional investments to their networks.

Etisalat, the UAE's incumbent operator, plans to invest AED7 billion ($1.91 billion) to expand its fibre optic network service, branded as eLife, over the next three years, stated a senior official as reported by Reuters.

Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, COO of Etisalat, said: "Etisalat has invested AED7 billion so far. We will invest a similar amount in the next three years." The operator aims to make the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, fully connected through fibre optic cable this year.

The UAE's second operator, Du, is also set to expand its fixed-line operations across the country. Osman Sultan, CEO of Du, was quoted in the Reuters report saying: "We will expand our fixed business nationwide."

Du stated that its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled last year with a rise in mobile and fixed-line subscribers. Du added 252,000 active mobile customers in the fourth quarter, giving it a nearly 40% market share in the UAE, said Sultan. With the fixed-line customer base reaching 561,000 subscribers compared to 405,900 subscribers in 2009, the operator's revenues increased by 34% to reach AED2.05 billion.

Sultan also said that the capital expenditure would rise to around Dh1.7 billion ($463 million) in 2011 compared to Dh1.3 billion in 2010. "We expect growth (in data revenues) to be significant," he added.

Earlier, in January, both Etisalat and Du commenced the testing of their shared networks ahead of a national rollout this year.