UAE telecoms operator Du posted a 31 per cent top line growth in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2009. Revenue for the quarter rose to AED1.75bn ($476m) and net profits reached AED326m.

The company has experienced the highest growth rate for a telecoms provider in the region. “The results make us very positive and optimistic about the future, but we expect this growth rate to slow over the next year as the market becomes more saturated,” says chief executive Osman Sultan. The UAE has a penetration level of 199 per cent, the highest in the world. Average return per user (ARPU) levels decreased from $111 to $109 this quarter.

Du expects digital content and value-added services to be a driving force in growth over the coming years. Currently data revenues in mobile account for 10 per cent of total revenues. “The main innovation is social networking, but we are still at the start of this journey,” says Sultan. The company hopes to expand its reach outside of the UAE through services such as Anayou, an online platform offering content, games and applications.

“The traditional telecoms, acquisition or green-field licences will not bring value since we’ve arrived late into the market and it is crowded, but there are opportunities in value added services and partnerships,” says Sultan.

Du recently announced a $109m investment plan for its infrastructure for the next two years, working with Nokia Siemens Networks to double speeds on its mobile network.

The operator has been testing long-term evolution (LTE) technology with NSN, Huawei and Ericsson. As yet a launch date for 4G capability has not been decided. “We’ll have better visibility after trails which will begin at the end of the year, but it will probably be ready for 2011 or 2012,” says Hatem Bamatraf, vice-president of networks at Du.  

Du has a 35 per cent market share in the mobile market, with more than four million active subscribers.