Through the year, UAE telecom operator du had seen its growth riding on higher subscriber numbers. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The UAE telecom operator du crossed the Dh1 billion mark at the end of the first nine months itself, totalling Dh1.2 billion against Dh933 million a year ago. The revenue gains were just as solid, at a shade over Dh10 billion from Dh9.43 billion a year ago.

Through the year, du had seen its growth riding on higher subscriber numbers as well as better offtake by business clients for the faster 5G services.

The company, which had pleased shareholders with a Dh589.2 million half-year dividend (at 13 fils a share), put in another strong quarter of growth on its mobile subscriber base, hitting 8.1 million end September. That’s a 9.4 per cent growth year-on-year, helped by "our ability to retain and attract new customers through the provision of innovative products, services and solutions", it said in a statement.

“The rising demand from the enterprise sector for mobile services coupled with steady growth in consumer segment delivered a ninth consecutive quarter of postpaid net-additions (32,200)…”

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That pushed the total postpaid subscriber numbers to 1.6 million. (It’s a constant that in the telecom business, post-paid services come with higher margin.) The du prepaid customer base was up 9.2 per cent to 6.5 million. “During this quarter, we have been very active pushing further the deployment of our 5G network which reached 98.5 per cent coverage and is now transporting significant part of our traffic,” said Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of du.

98.5 %

du’s 5G network coverage as of now

Highest quarterly income in 3 years

The du Q3-23 tally is its best set of three-month numbers in 3 years. du had through this period embarked on a major makeover program on its operational side, and which also helped on the cost of operations. The pay-offs from these — and which also included selling non-core assets — is delivering results.

This outstanding financial and operational performance reflects the disciplined execution of our strategy, our commercial dynamism and the continuous innovation that we have been bringing to the market.

- Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of du
du numbers in a nutshell
* Net profit shot up 57.7% to Dh504 million, "primarily due to higher EBITDA, higher interest income and one-off reversal".

* Capex spend was at Dh527 million (with a "capital intensity" of 16%). "We continue to direct the majority of our spend towards 5G deployment to enhance indoor coverage, our ongoing IT transformation and the expansion of our fibre network," the du statement said.

* Operating free cash flow (which is EBITDA – capex) was 65.1% higher at Dh956 million, "following EBITDA growth and the normalization of capex".

Fixed is growing nice and easy

On the fixed customer base, du is still delivering double-digit growth and reached 573,000 broadband customers by end September. “Our broadband strategy built around offering various means of access consistent with our customer needs supported a 12.4 per cent year-over-year growth and an addition of over 13,000 customers over the quarter,” said a statement.

Again, the number mirror the UAE’s growth trajectory when it comes to its population.

"The growth of our quarterly service revenues at 5.5 per cent, coupled with a rigorous management of our cost base allowed us to register a double-digit growth on all our major profitability KPIs - 13.8 per cent on EBITDA, 65.1 per cent of operating cash flow and 57.7 per cent on net profit," said Al Hassawi.