UAE's Etisalat plugs $4bn into fibre optics

2.8m km of cable laid, five times the distance between the earth and the moon
Etisalat is exhibiting in Zabeel Hall at GITEX.
Etisalat is exhibiting in Zabeel Hall at GITEX.


Etisalat, the Abu Dhabi-based telecommunications giant, has invested a total of AED15bn (US$4bn) on its fibre optic network over the last four years, its CEO said in an interview published on Sunday by the WAM news agency.

“No returns have been made yet from the fibre optic network by etisalat, but with this achievement, we contributed to the process of sustainable development in the UAE and achieved network readiness,” CEO of Etisalat Saleh Al Abdouli was quoted as saying.

“For etisalat, investments in infrastructure is long-term and it would contribute to the development of other sectors such as education, healthcare, business, banking, hospitality and others," he added.

The UAE telco giant began its investment in fibre optics four years ago and the total length of the network currently amounts to 2.8 million km of cable, which is roughly five times the distance between the earth and the moon.

Etisalat, which has operations in 16 countries, last July announced a net profit after federal royalty of AED1.9bn ($517m) for the second quarter of 2012.

The figure represented growth of three percent over the previous quarter, and a year-on-year growth of 17 percent on quarterly group consolidated revenue of AED8.252bn, an increase of four percent year-on-year.

The company, the Gulf's number two telecom operator, said in a statement that revenue from international operations grew by 14 percent to AED2.3bn.

In the UAE, revenues declined by 0.4 percent to AED5.643bn due to lower voice revenues in both mobile and fixed segments.

Etisalat said it was focusing on creating value in high population, high growth markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Etisalat Group said aggregate subscriber numbers grew to 172 million by end of June, 22 percent up on the year-earlier figure and two percent up on the previous quarter.

It added that subscriber growth was mainly driven by new product and services in matured markets and by further market penetrations in growth markets.

In the UAE, its active subscriber base grew to 8.9 million, a rise of seven percent year-on-year and two percent up on Q1.

Fixed line subscribers reached 1.1 million, down eight percent while internet subscribers grew by nine percent to 0.8 million.


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