Dubai: Mobile phone subscriber numbers in the UAE grew 3.72 per cent in the third quarter of this year to 16.98 million, mainly driven by prepaid customers, according to Gulf News statistics.

During the same period last year, there were 16.37 million subscribers.

Etisalat’s third-quarter subscriber numbers increased 9.35 per cent to 9.7 million compared to 8.87 million during the same period last year.

Du’s subscribers decreased 3.06 per cent to 7.28 million compared to 7.51 million during the same period last year.

Both the telecom operators lost many subscribers due to “My Number My Identity” (MNMI) campaign.

“We believe the telecom industry will continue to grow in the coming years driven by increased demand for data services and traction for enterprise solutions,” said Sony John, Program Manager for Telecoms and Media at research firm International Data Corporation.

The average mobile revenue per user for etisalat during the quarter stood at Dh117 compared to Dh119 during the same period last year.

The average mobile revenue per user for du during the quarter stood at Dh96.4 compared to Dh96.1 during the same period last year.

Higher data usage

Sukhdev Singh, vice-president at market research and analysis services provider AMRB, said that additional data spend is compensating for any possible drop in voice ARPU (average revenue per user).

At the same time, research indicates that there is a steady increase in the time consumers spend on their mobile devices, resulting in higher data usage.

“Higher usage of data-based voice services such as streaming services and voice-over-internet are having an inverse effect on voice revenues,” Singh said.

He said the data contribution is likely to grow strongly over the next 3-5 years as the Internet of Things (IoT) picks up.

IoT is a network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable objects to collect data and converse machine to machine.