Respondents to the survey provided a wealth of new data for TRA policy makers to ponder for future reference as mobile devices are set to outpace global use of PC computers to access online content. Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News

Dubai: The majority of mobile phone users in the United Arab Emirates use BlackBerry devices to access the internet, suggests a new survey by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

"BlackBerries are the most commonly used devices to access the internet approximately 37 per cent of the time," the TRA said in its ICT in the UAE report released in Abu Dhabi this week.

The iPhone was used to access internet services 16 per cent of the time.

The findings stem from a TRA-commissioned survey of 2,109 households and 2,133 individuals in 2010 to gauge trends in telephony, mobile telephony and the internet.

Mohammad Nasser Al Ganem, TRA Director General, said in a statement that "the survey results provide a realistic picture of the development achieved in the ITC sector during recent years. The latest international methods and technologies have been used while conducting the survey to ensure the maximum degree of credibility."

Respondents to the survey provided a wealth of new data for TRA policy makers to ponder for future reference as mobile devices are set to outpace global use of PC computers to access online content.

The TRA said the survey found, "general internet browsing and e-mailing are the activities most commonly undertaken by users of mobile internet services."

Checking or writing e-mails ranked as the number-one activity for online mobile use with 57 per cent of respondents noting that e-mail was paramount.


A further 53 per cent said internet browsing was the second most common activity followed by 38 per cent who visited their social networking sites.

Of the 55 per cent of those surveyed show said they belong to a social networking site, 95 per cent were members of Facebook — 44 per cent of respondents said they logged on to social networking sites once a day.

The TRA found that 28 per cent of mobile phone users held "more than one mobile SIM card that they use on a regular basis" and said they possessed two SIMs for "personal and business needs."

Etisalat SIMs were used more often by 70 per cent of those with two cards and 86 were prepaid, said the TRA. Mobile phone owners actively place domestic and international phone calls, survey results showed.

"Mobile users typically make around 46 calls each week from their mobile phones," the report stated. "Of these, 32 are to another mobile in the UAE, nine are to a fixed line in the UAE and five are to international destinations."

Given the UAE's high concentration of expatriates from India, the majority of international calls from mobiles were placed to Indian destinations.

"In terms of calls from mobile phones, India is by far the most popular international calling destination from the UAE, followed by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia." Survey results showed there was a distinct pattern in the timing of calls.

"The majority of these calls are made during business hours (48 per cent), followed by weekday evenings (44 per cent). Only six per cent are made during the weekend."

Cost conscious

It would appear callers were cost conscious when placing calls given short periods of conversation time.

"Most mobile calls last in the region of between two and five minutes on average," the survey found.

While phone calls were placed regularly via mobile users, the survey also yielded a range of findings regarding other activities done through mobile devices. Other than placing calls, respondents said that texting was the second most favourite activity performed on their devices.

"SMS is the most commonly used value added mobile service, followed by MMS and downloading ringbones," the survey said.


The survey suggested that "79 per cent of mobile users use SMS…Of this 79 per cent, 86 per cent send between one and five SMSs on an average day. Three per cent send more than 21. Almost a third of SMSs are sent to international numbers."

Only four per cent of survey respondents said they used their mobile phones for video calling while five per cent said they downloaded games on the fly.

When asked how much they spend to access mobile telephony services, 22 per cent of respondents said they spend between Dh81 and Dh140 per month to stay in touch.

"The spread of average monthly spend by individuals is reasonably wide…95 per cent spend more than Dh41 per month and 18 per cent spend more than Dh400 per month," the survey said.

Other TRA findings

The ICT in the UAE survey findings show that residents of the country rely on technical gadgets for communication and entertainment:

  • 99 per cent of individuals own a mobile phone
  • 46 per cent of households have a fixed line phone
  • 76 per cent of homes are equipped with a computer
  • 96 per cent of households have a TV
  • 49 per cent of homes have a radio
  • 63 per cent of homes are equipped with an internet connection
  • 78 per cent of the population between age 15 and 74 have used the internet in the last three months.