02 August, 2006

UAE top in penetration

UAE TOPS: Mobile penetration 120pc claims Etisalat.
These figures were arrived at after the results of the official census of the UAE population was announced, which showed that the total population of the UAE stands at 4.1 million. Etisalat’s mobile customer base has exceeded 5 million, the company said. Previous figures indicated that mobile penetration in the UAE had touched 100 per cent, positioning the UAE as second after Bahrain, which has achieved more that 105 per cent penetration, it said. “Previous figures used unofficial population estimates, and this has now been updated,” said Ahmed Abdul Karim Julfar, chief operation officer, Etisalat.
In other words, this is an incredibly rich country and many people own more than one phone. Even children. Many own more than two phones. And many - earning less than 500 dirhams a month don't have a mobile phone at all.

Wouldn't the accurate way to measure penetration be to count the number of inhabitants who do not have a mobile phone?

Penetration has multiple meanings. I am reminded that a feminist economist once argued that a female would never have written the phrase "penetrated by constructive and rigorous thinking" to describe the scope of the Econometric Society. Perhaps the meaning that evoked for her is what it evokes for a telecom in a monopoly position.


giggles said...

You may want to be a bit careful with that headline for the post. It may very well be misinterpreted ;-)

Woke said...

:D @ the headline.

One important factor might be that the economic development happened in such a short period that there was no major transformation of landline users to the mobile phone like it happened for other countries. People just straightway got into mobile phones unlike elsewhere where people do not find mobile phones mandatory if they have a landline(mostly developing nations).

And yes I have to agree with you on the statistics front.

Emirates Mac said...

The stats are a bit funny, I agree. And did I miss something but doesn't this just measure SIM cards? Or does it really measure actual phone usage? I bet you there's a sizeable chunk of SIM cards sold that after a while end up in a drawer or in a dumpster. If those cards/numbers are included in the stats, the stats is pretty much useless. Perhaps I'm just missing something....

And "120%" penetration, saying "the total population of the UAE stands at 4.1 million. Etisalat’s mobile customer base has exceeded 5 million" is next to useless, isn't it, if you don't actually look at how many people own mobile phones, as John says. Surely it should be a comparison between total number of phones in actual use and how many people own a phone, not just comparing total population and phones or cards sold.

But I'm certainly not a statistician ;-)

bandicoot said...

I'm more interested in knowing where did they get the 4.1 million population number. Is it just an estimate? Or does it reflect the troubled census count?

Tim Newman said...

I remember going to a lavish function in the Grand Hyatt which was laid on to congratulate DEWA for achieving 95% market penetration in Dubai.

The function included large plaques being awarded to a line of dish-dashes, followed by much back-slapping and grand speeches boasting of the marvellous success of the company.

It was the stuff of comedy, really it was. I'd bet not a single one of the chaps receiving an award that night would last five minutes in a competitive business.

Anonymous said...

Which makes me wonder, Tim. What about the other 5%? No electricity?

Anonymous said...

Etisalat's market penetration stats seem to be based on total SIM card sales, minus expired subscriptions. Probably.

Fact is, most people here own mobiles, including office boys and construction workers. For the very low income group, a mobile phone is virtually a lifeline. Ordinarily, without a mobile phone, the typical construction worker will have almost no access to any kind of telecommunication facility.

This is a major contributory factor to the high penetration rate.

Still, 120%? Hard to swallow (Please do not misinterpret.)

marwan said...

Etisalat have been drinking the pale ale if they think they have 120% 'penetration'. Which is the most uncomfortable measure of success I've ever heard.

The smart thing would be to take all these SIM cards and then look at which ones have made calls in the last day. That's your subscription rate.

I'd be really interested to see if landline take up rates have fallen. That would tell you how many people are leaving.

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