The UAE has a fast, efficient telecommunications network regulated by the UAE Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA).
TRA Statistics (June 2015)
Number of fixed lines 2,153,343
per 100 inhabitants 25.3
Active mobile subscriptions 17,186,727
per 100 inhabitants 202.3
Internet subscribers 1,154,985
Broadband internet per 100 inhabitants 13.6
The UAE telecommunications sector is currently served by two telecommunications operators, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC (du). Competition was introduced in early 2007 when du, the second licensee, launched its mobile network services ending nearly 30 years of telecommunications monopoly by Etisalat.
Sustained investment in telecommunications infrastructure has ensured continued growth for both providers. Rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets has also stimulated data revenues, whilst the rise in social media usage is having a significant impact.
International indices ranking a range of information and communication technology (ICT) indicators demonstrate the robust nature of the UAE's telecommunications sector and the government's success in leveraging advances in information and communication technologies to drive economic productivity and social development.
For example, the UAE is ranked ahead of all Arab states in the 2015 Networked Readiness Index (NRI) issued by the World Economic Forum, and twenty-third among all 143 countries asessed, moving up one position from twenty-fourth place in 2014.
In terms of the individual indicators analysed, the UAE ranked first among Arab states in:
• Business-to-consumer Internet use
• E-Participation Index
• Internet access in schools
• Secure Internet servers
• Low software piracy rates
• Percentage of software installed
Internationally, the UAE is ranked:
• First in ICT use and Government efficiency
• First in mobile network coverage, in terms of the percentage of the population covered
• First in the importance of ICT to the Government's vision of the future
• First in the impact of ICT on access to basic services
• Second in impact of ICTs on new services and products
• Second in Government procurement of advanced technology products
• Fourth in laws relating to ICT
• Fifth in the impact of ICT on new organisational models
• Seventh in mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
• Seventh in firm level technology absorption
• Seventh in business-to-business internet use
• Eighth in use of virtual social networks
• Eighth in the availability of latest technologies
The full report is available here
UAE companies are also actively involved in satellite telecommunications regionally and globally. Thuraya, in which Etisalat is an investor, is providing reliable and robust satellite communications, using Thuraya IP and satellite handheld phones, in many of the world’s remotest locations. Another UAE company, the Mubadala-owned Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, or Yahsat, the region's first hybrid military and commercial satellite company. Yahsat's satellites provide complete satellite communications solutions to 140 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Central and South West Asia.
DubaiSat-2, the second UAE-owned and operated earth imaging satellite, which was built by a team of Emirati engineers from Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), became fully operational early in 2014. EIAST, which was established in 2006, launched DubaiSat-1 in July 2009. DubaiSat-3 is schedule for launch in 2016 to 2017 and DubaiSat4 in 2020.