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posted on 02/12/2002: 2050 views

The Emirates Telecommunication Corporation, ETISALAT, is steadily but confidently making strides towards achieving its objectives. According to ETISALAT's 2002 third quarter report, the corporation had chalked a net profit of Dh1.9 billion while its total revenue stood at about Dh5.9billion.

The corporation's total revenue for the whole of 2002 is expected to reach Dh8billion. This is against Dh7.5billion achieved last year and Dh6.930billion in 2000, Dh6.190billion in 19999 and Dh4.120billion in 1998.

By this year's figure, ETISALAT would have doubled its earnings of last five years, a feat achieved despite the continuous rate cut which the corporation embarked upon in recent times. By following up the income of the corporation, one will notice a steady rise in the revenue from the mobile phones, which accounted for 54.3 per cent of ETISALAT's total revenue. This is against 38.6 per cent for fixed telephones, 6.7 per cent for data services, 3.8 per cent for Internet services, 6.0 per cent for pager services, while other services accounted for 4.1 per cent.

The report shows that telephone lines for every one hundred persons in the Arab world stood at 8.2 for every one hundred. The rate stood at six for every hundred in the case of mobile phones as at the end of 2001. By breaking down these services according to countries, Saudi Arabia which has a population of 22 million has 11.5 subscribers for every 100 persons, and three million mobile phone users. Kuwait has 24.8 subscribers for every 100 persons.

The rate in Qatar is 29.3 for every 100, Bahrain has 42.5 for every 100, while Oman has 12.4 for every 100. In the UAE the rate stood at 66 for every 100 persons last year, but jumped to 68 for every 100 by September 2002.It is expected to reach 70 for every 100 at the end of this year.

ETISALAT now provides a wide range of basic telephone services like voice mail and call diversion etc. It also provides the latest cellular services including the WAP service, in addition to Internet, e-commerce, cablevision and GSM services. The number of telephone lines in the country rose from 36,000 lines in 1976 to 1.84million lines by the end of September 2002.

This reflects how widely spread telephone services are in the country, considering the country's population of less than 2.5 million (2002est.). This places the UAE among the best countries of the world in terms of telecommunication services.

The international standard now stands at 36 lines for every 100 persons. The number of ETISALAT branches throughout the country rose from 28 in 1976 to 263 stations by September 2002. The number of countries linked to the UAE by the International Direct Dialling system, IDD, also rose to 258 countries from 36 in 1976, while the number of departments with IDD services increased from 340 in 1976 to more than 49,000 by the end of September 2002.

Within this period, ETISALAT has also greatly improved all its outlets in the country, using 100 per cent advanced digital technology and boosting its local and international telecommunications with a network of optical fibres, which helps in providing high quality services.

It is also making serious efforts to link this optic-fibre-network with the regional and international under sea optical fibre cable to support the requirements of socio-economic development in the field of telecommunication both within the country and between the UAE and the countries of the world. Ahmed Humaid al Tayer, Minister of Communications, and Board Chairman of the ETISALAT, said that the Corporation seeks to achieve four major objectives. These include improving the basic infrastructure, providing high quality services at competitive prices, finding the needed money to live up to commitments and improving the local human resources.

ETISALAT continues to make more rates cut, which began in September 2001, when the corporation made various price cuts on IDD calls to 225 countries. ETISALAT also made a 46 per cent cut of GSM services prices on September19, cutting subscription price from Dh340 to Dh185. This includes connection, SIM Card and annual rent charges, while the annual rent renewal charge was cut to Dh100 from Dh200. Last month (October), ETISALAT announced an extension of its off-peak hours in IDD calls with a number of countries, including all the GCC states, most of Arab countries.

In order to continue delivering good services to its increasing customers, the corporation approved Dh3.4billion to improve its infrastructure and facilities to enable it deliver the best services to its ever-increasing number of customers. This is also to enable it move to the suing of new generations of equipment and gadgets, which would ensure continued development and increased profit.

According to Ali Salim Al Owais, ETISALAT Director General, the Corporation depends on the policy of providing the best services for its customers at competitive rates. He said that the use of under sea optical cable had increased in last year one by 78 per cent, while the use of satellite went up by four per cent, fixed telephones increased by three per cent, mobile phone use increased by 34 per cent, while the ordinary use of the Internet also went up by 22 per cent, international call connections have also shot up from 41million minutes in 2000 to 60 million minutes, making ETISALAT one of the busiest regional connection centre for telecommunications services -

Another ETISALAT's area of accomplishment is the Thuraya satellite which was successfully launched in 2000. No sooner had it being launched, its services quickly spread to a large number of countries and this enable it to settle the first instalment of its US$40million loan. The sale of Thuraya's mobile phone handset shot up from 28,000handsets by the end of December 2001 to 100,000 by the middle of the second half of this year.

Thuraya also has 62,000 direct subscribers from various parts of the world. This is against only 14,000 recorded at the end of December last year. Last June, Thuraya signed an agreement with the Boeing Space and Communications of the United States to build a third GEO-mobile GEM communications satellite for Thuraya. The US$170million agreement would allow Thuraya to launch the Thurayya-2 in January 2003 and to build Thuraya-3 to complement the work of Thurayya-1, which means assuring continuity of quality service.

Thuraya's mobile phones include satellite, GSM and GPS services to more than 100 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, southern Europe, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. ETISALAT also built in 1994 the Emirates Data Clearance Room to boost its GSM roaming services. It also introduced into the country in 1995 Internet service, first, as a unit in the ETISALAT, before it set up in 2000 the Emirates Internet and Multi-media, EIM, which is the Internet service provider in the country. There are about 284,000 Internet subscribers in the UAE, while the number of people who use the Internet in the UAE are about 950,000.

The UAE is one of the leading countries in the world as far as the Internet infrastructure is concerned. The EIM has introduced the state-of-the-art technology in telecommunication and advanced solutions to both individuals and companies. The UN affiliated Global Telecommunications Union has rated the UAE as no.1 among the Arab countries in terms of Telecommunications infrastructure. The UAE is also rated among the first 20 of countries with the highest number of Internet users in the world.

The UAE has the highest rate of accessibility to the Internet considering its population and the number of Internet users, which is about one million. The average makes the UAE the highest in the number of Internet users in the World (user per PC). Other services the ETISALAT offers include, E-vision, which was launched in 1999. The Corporation has embarked on a multi-billion dirhams construction, reconstruction and maintenance projects on its facilities, including over the reconstruction and maintenance of about 500 building structures since 1976 and the construction of 300 new buildings. The corporation is also making a great headway in its emiratisation programme, with UAE nationals representing about 70 per cent of its staff and workers. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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