How du Leads In One Of The World’s Top 5G Markets
One of the key players – du – in one of the world’s largest 5G markets – the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – has been on a remarkable run of success.
In Q3 of 2022 alone, du’s mobile revenue increased 10.5%. But du is more than just a mobile provider – the firm also offers home broadband, IPTV, fixed services, and other solutions. In fact, fixed services’ revenue jumped 22.2% in the same quarter, and net profit across the company grew by 12.7%.
In colloquial terms: du is on a roll, something Karim Benkirane, the company’s Chief Commercial Officer, attributes both to economic dynamism in UAE and du’s efforts to consistently deliver new products and services.
“We have generated more than AED 2 billion in service revenue for five consecutive quarters,” Karim Benkirane, Chief Commercial Officer of du, told Light Reading in an interview conducted in the Win Win extended reality studio at MWC 2023. “Our profitability improves continuously year-on-year. We will continue to invest in our infrastructure to provide our customers with a simple and optimal experience in the UAE.”
While the results are borne from a multi-pronged strategy, the bedrock is du’s early investment in 5G. The company began rolling out its 5G network in 2019, giving it a first-mover advantage – du had the first 5G rollout in UAE – that Benkirane says boosted the du brand and gave it a strong 5G association with consumers.
“People will come to du if they want to enjoy 5G,” Benkirane said.
Tariff schedule innovation as another factor, according to Benkirane – du published the first speed-based tariff in UAE with no traffic caps. That led to more high-value, post-paid customers that have helped drive mobile revenue growth. Those customers are willing to spend directly with du to upgrade their devices to enjoy 5G; Benkirane adds the company is also exploring lower-cost devices to help migrate remaining legacy subscribers over to 5G.
Fiber is common and widely available in UAE – approximately 98% of homes have access to fiber connection. That would seem to make home wireless a challenge for a provider like du, which doesn’t do much in terms of fiber – but the company has innovated here as well.
FTTH providers in UAE are multi-play providers and require two-year contracts; du identified an opportunity in the fast-paced, high-turnover market for shorter-term deals, offering one-year contracts on its 5G-powered 300 Mbit/s home wireless service, plus streaming entertainment bundles that include platforms such as Amazon Prime.
UAE is a tourism and business destination, so du identified a significant market for prepaid home wireless services for customers who may only be in the region for several months.
Du’s success story isn’t limited to the consumer. It recently launched its Business Starter solution to offer lower-cost wireless solutions to ensure small and micro enterprises have accessible internet. And that may pave the way for its next 5G leadership role in 5G to B and other 5G-enabled innovations.
It’s early days but there are already tangible signs of progress. Benkirane said du has signed a MoU with Masdar City to build a 5G center of excellence in Abu Dhabi. The project will include a 5G smart city platform focused on open and shared data, enabling smart applications, enabling operational efficiencies for Masdar City management, and improving quality of life for residents and tourists in the city.
Benkirane also says du is working on industry-specific 5G use cases as the ecosystem matures, such as its 5G transmission line inspection with DEWA, and a 5G smart warehouse exploration with Sinotrans.
“I personally believe that broadband service for small and micro enterprises can be rapidly replicated and developed,” Benkirane says. “Industry-oriented applications will gradually flourish with the development of the industry.”
This content is sponsored by Huawei.