Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The UAE Mobile Market. Some Numbers

English: A mini SIM card next to its electrica...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is set to end its 'My number, my identity' campaign tomorrow. The campaign saw all mobile users in the Emirates being sent texts to go into their telcos offices and register their SIM cards against their passports or national IDs.

It's unclear whether this is something we'll have to repeat every two years as we renew visas, but the campaign's drawing to a close certainly means a weeding out of the 'dead' SIMs in the market. Operators tend not to count unused SIMs when they publish claims of network size and penetration, often giving exaggerated market size numbers as a result. The UAE, for instance, is a market of 14.1 million mobile subscribers, a penetration of 171%.

Gulf News reports today that Du will suspend unregistered lines from January 17th with a 90-day period in which subscribers will be able to re-register before the line is deleted. Presumably Etisalat will follow suit. And an awful lot of people who haven't moved to re-register their lines are going to go into a last minute tailspin and dash to get the job done when they find their mobiles stop working.

So what has been the impact of the campaign so far? According to GN, TRA director general Mohammed Al Ghanem has said 3.82 million SIMs were cut off and 1.35 million suspended after the fifth phase - we don't know if that's a total for the whole campaign and, if not, about the first four phases or, indeed, how many SIMs remain unregistered, but that figure would mean something like 26% of the market was wiped out in the campaign so far.

Which is quite a chunk of any market, I'm sure you'd agree...
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