Du still sees growth opportunities in UAE

CCO says data to be the key driver

Gulf News

Dubai: Du still sees room for growth in the UAE and is very optimistic that the market conditions will improve, a top official said.

Fahad Al Hassawi, Chief Commercial Officer at du, told Gulf News that the growing segments are data, managed services and digital services.

“Fixed network will become a growth opportunity and we have a lot to do in the UAE itself,” he said.

He sees data as the engine for growth as people are consuming more data than before.

Data now represents 33.6 per cent of mobile service revenue, up from 31.2 per cent in the same period last year. Data consumption increased by approximately 46 per cent from 13 million GB in second quarter of last year to 19 million GB this year.

“We are extremely privileged to work with the Dubai government by winning the tender as lead partner for UAE’s Smart Government initiative. Digital services will create growth in future when the country moves to more digital and smart platforms, so we can build more services on top of this platform,” he said.

When asked about the high data cost in the country, he said that there is a framework in the country and the prices are governed by the regulator (TRA).

“Data prices have reduced when compared to a few years ago but we have launched integrated bundles (data, voice minutes, SMS) in different price segments. Now, data has become affordable and it is adding value for a common man,” he said.

This year, Du has launched 100GB postpaid data plan for premium customers and there are people who are consuming data close to that figure.

“Our premium postpaid segment continues to grow strongly even in the current economic scenario year over year,” he said.

As of second quarter, du had more than 910,000 postpaid customers, a 6.7 per cent increase compared to a year ago.

Even though du’s profit has been declining for the sixth consecutive quarter, Al Hassawi said that the financial results are the reflection of the market challenges.

He said that du is a bit more ‘co-related’ because of the customer base.

“We have a bigger prepaid mobile customer base and this segment is very flexible by nature and volatile. The customer base goes up when the market improves and comes down when the market weakens. The growth in EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation] shows that we are gearing ourselves right to adapt to the market conditions,” he said.

Du’s EBITDA increased 0.8 per cent to Dh1.35 billion in the second quarter this year compared to Dh1.34 billion. EBITDA is widely used in many areas of finance when assessing the performance of a company.

On fixed network sharing deal with etisalat, he said that it is too early to judge about it at the moment but it gives an option for customers to choose their fixed network operator.

“We are quite happy with the progress made but right now we are testing the triple play. But it is difficult to put a date for the launch of triple play. The final word has to come from the regulator rather than the operator,” he said.