Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Number of active users in question

Etisalat's "active" mobile subscriber base is 15 per cent lower that the customer figures it publishes due to the way the company reports its financials.

About 15 per cent of Etisalat's mobile customers are "inactive", according to an analysis of figures issued by the regulator.

Mobile subscribers are described as inactive when they do not use their line for three months or more.

Unlike its rival du, the UAE's first mobile operator does not report active subscribers, which makes it difficult to compare its performance against its competitor.

Etisalat claimed to have 7,764,000 mobile customers at the end of last year. But the number of subscribers that are using their lines could have been as low as 6,593,000. By comparison, du reported 4,333,000 active subscribers at the end of last year, based on customers using their phone lines in the previous three months.

While Etisalat does not publicly disclose its active subscriber base, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said there were 10,926,000 active subscribers at the end of last year. Martin Mabbutt, a telecoms analyst at Nomura, said Etisalat's reporting practices were "unhelpful". "Etisalat's numbers are usually much greater than the regulator's numbers," he said.

"It tends not to be awfully helpful in terms of making comparisons. Etisalat reports numbers that are not in line with what the regulator reports." Mr Mabbutt said it would benefit analysts if Etisalat was to change its reporting practice.

"It's in everyone's interest in the long term for people to have numbers people can work with," he said.

Etisalat did not respond to a request for comment.

Jawad Abbassi, the founder and general manager of the Arab Advisors Group, a regional consultancy, said the two companies had "two different ways of reporting" their mobile subscriber bases.

"du calculates it based on the three-month activity rule," he said. "Etisalat reports it as active regardless of whether [a subscriber] made a phone call or not."

Mr Abbassi said reporting active mobile subscriptions could lead to subscriber numbers of between 15 and 20 per cent lower than the reporting method used by Etisalat.

"The three-month method is more conservative in the context of the UAE," said Mr Abbassi. "Usually we'd say that the regulator of any market would compare apples to apples."

However, he said the subscriber numbers were not as important a measure compared with other aspects of the telecoms operators' financials. "So long as both operators report revenues, who cares about lines?" said Mr Abbassi.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National