The United Arab Emirates (UAE) benefits from well-developed telecommunications infrastructure, with high penetration rates for both mobile and fixed-line services and hubs for international submarine cables in Fujairah and Dubai.
The main regulator in the telecom sector in UAE is the federal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), based in Abu Dhabi City. The TRA was established under the 2003 Telecom Law, with a mandate to manage “every aspect of the telecommunications and information technology industries in the UAE”. This includes issuing licences, enforcing regulations, promoting e-government and the sector as a whole, establishing access management policy, resolving disputes, and ensuring service quality and access equity.
The Emirates Telecommunications Group Company(Etisalat, formerly Emirtel) was established in 1976, five years after the uniting of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, as the sector’s sole provider of telecoms services. Until 2006, Etisalat was the monopoly telecom operator in UAE.
Etisalat was also the regulator for telecom sector in UAE. Acknowledging that this created challenges for sector development, the UAE authorities began a process of market liberalisation leading to the creation of the TRA, which took over regulatory functions and licensed a second operator, the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC, now branded as du), in 2006.
Etisalat and du remain a duopoly on both mobile and fixed-line telecom services in UAE. In September 2017, EITC (du) launched Virgin Mobile as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) under EITC (du). Etisalat also launched its own MVNO Swyp a few days later.
Etisalat and du also became a duopoly on the operation of international submarine cables in UAE.
Fujairah is the major hub for international submarine cables landing in UAE.
Etisalat Fujairah Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cables:
Du Fujairah Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cables:
Dubai is another hub for international submarine cables landing in UAE.
Etisalat Dubai Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cables:
Du Dubai Cable Landing Station houses the following submarine cable:
In addition, Etisalat also operates submarine cable landing stations in Abu Dhabi and Das Island for the Qatar-UAE Submairne Cable System, and cable landing stations in Sharjah, and Sir Abu Nu'Ayr Island for its domestic submarine cable, Sir Abu Nu’ayr Cable System.