UAE telecoms subscribers rise to 21.9 million by end of 2020

There were 16.8 million mobile users in December last year

The total number of internet subscriptions in the UAE totalled almost 3 million in December. Reem Mohammed / The National
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The number of telecoms subscribers in the UAE reached 21.9 million in December last year, recording a monthly increase of 112,391 users, according to the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

The number of mobile users rose to 16.8 million in December, up from 16.7 million in November. There were 186.1 mobile connections per 100 people.

More than 78 per cent of the mobile users opted for pre-paid plans owing to the affordability and availability of flexible subscription options, TRA said. There were 13.2 million pre-paid mobile users by the end of December, while post-paid customers numbered 3.6 million.

The TRA did not disclose the total number of subscribers in the UAE last year.

Telecom usage in the UAE and across the world soared over the past year as companies increasingly switched to remote working to stem the spread of the pandemic. The Emirates also temporarily lifted a ban on voice-over-internet protocol applications and other video conferencing tools to help remote working.

The total number of internet subscriptions in the UAE totalled nearly 3 million in December, almost the same as of November, according to the TRA. There were almost 33 broadband internet connections per 100 residents in the Emirates, it added.

A separate research by Dubai-based research and digital media agency Global Media Insight revealed that more than 98 per cent of the UAE residents were active internet users in 2020.

Growth in fixed-line users in the country remained flat at 2.1 million subscribers in December, with 23.6 connections per 100 residents, according to the TRA.

Industry analysts said the introduction of 5G connectivity in the UAE is expected to propel the telecoms sector growth.

In 2019, Etisalat became the first service provider in the region to offer a 5G network, supporting smartphones for commercial use. Soon du and Bahrain's Batelco followed suit.

In September, Etisalat extended the scope of 5G on fixed-line networks as the work from home trend in the UAE drove demand for faster connections.