Fixed Broadband Subscribers
Etisalat UAE has embarked on a bold journey designed to accelerate its growth and transformation in order to establish its position as a leading technology company within the region and the operator of choice in the UAE for government, corporates and consumers.
2021 was another year of success and achievement for Etisalat UAE, with solid strategic progress and financial performance, while undergoing a transformational shift in its operating model.
This year was a major inflection point for Etisalat UAE, which saw us fully align with the overall the Group’s growth and expansion strategy. This began with the appointment of Masood Mohamed Sharif as CEO of Etisalat UAE and was followed by a range of organisational changes designed to maximise shareholder value and ensure superior customer experience.
Winning the leading mobile network performance in the world for the second year in a row stands out as one of the key highlights of the year, complemented by maintaining global leadership in fibre penetration and striking major improvements in fixed broadband ranking and associated speeds.
Strong financial results followed, enabled as well by positive market recovery and favourable countrywide economic activity. Overall, the UAE mobility levels have recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels, while the opening of Expo 2020 was a major economy boost and a declaration of the country’s resilience.
As the UAE celebrated its golden jubilee, it launched the ‘Towards the Next 50’ initiative, which will drive the economy further and create massive opportunities, specifically in the ICT sector through initiatives like Tech Drive, PyCon MEA, the fourth Industrial Revolution Network, and 100 Coders Every Day. The UAE continues to demonstrate its unique dynamism and resilience, and Etisalat UAE is well positioned to unlock this value.
Overall, Etisalat UAE celebrated many accomplishments this year, some being the natural outcome of years of focused planning and strategic investments while others surfaced as an outcome of its recent transformation journey, dubbed the “North Star” transformation programme.
In 2021, Etisalat UAE’s “North Star” transformation programme was launched to address key strategic priorities focusing on de-risking revenues, growth potential, optimising costs, and cementing the enablers in the areas of governance, talent, and culture. The programme’s objectives were delivered for the first year; it has generated OpEx savings through increased spend-efficiency and optimisation of third-party contracts, while CAPEX savings were achieved through scope optimisation, demand streamlining and procurement driven synergies.
The transformation project delivered a step change towards a major strategic goal for Etisalat UAE, that of creating a customer-centric digital telco. Some of the key achievements of its consumer-focused digitisation drive included transforming more than 52 stores into a state-of-the-art digital format, embracing no-touch digital journeys, increasing digital recharges to above 75%, and achieving Mobile App penetration of above 30% with monthly active users exceeding three million in 2021 for the first time.
Digital channels are always a focus for Etisalat UAE, such channels are under continuous improvements, including adding more features and notable look-and-feel enhancements. The Company also continued to promote the benefits of its digital channels, providing customers with the ability to digitally access a wide range of services while receiving exciting discounts and deals, as part of its ‘Online is better’ awareness campaign.
For Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs), more than 50% have been migrated to non-legacy services, with revenue growth from cloud exceeding 2.5X the baseline. Etisalat UAE’s major focus on customer experience was also translated into a 50% reduction in Fixed Complaints compared to 2020.
Moving to operations, Etisalat UAE is well positioned to provide advanced and comprehensive solutions for all B2B verticals, such as Oil and Gas, Smart Cities and Health Care. Etisalat UAE has also developed and deployed innovative solutions to support business continuity in the new normal, enabling new digital business models and accelerating digitisation, primarily through its comprehensive range of cloud propositions.
Etisalat UAE cloud services propositions have evolved into a Multi-Cloud Managed Service Provider, empowered by state-of-the-art infrastructure, and with partnerships with leading global hyper-scale cloud service providers, offering a wide variety of cloud services complemented with strong consulting and operations capabilities.
In 2021, Etisalat UAE expanded its collaboration with Microsoft in Azure services, and signed a joint agreement with Oracle and Accenture to accelerate its seamless digital transformation capabilities. Etisalat UAE Cloud infrastructure also powers its leading Business Edge platform, enhanced in 2021 with new digital capabilities, to offer SMBs an important engine to support their growth, innovation, and job creation.
As a leading cloud provider, Etisalat UAE continued to look for opportunities in the underlying infrastructure, with particular focus on data centres. This year, Etisalat signed an agreement with G42 to merge their data centres in the UAE, in order to build the largest data centre offering in the Middle East and Africa. 12 data centres will be combined in the new joint venture, providing customers with a unique portfolio of infrastructure services, and creating a market leader to host global hyper-scalers. This agreement will further strengthen the UAE as a preferred destination for global technology companies seeking a world-class presence in the region and propel the development of the UAE’s digital ecosystem to support digitalisation ambitions.
When it comes to ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), Etisalat UAE has strengthened its position as the preferred M2M and IoT provider, powering over 1.6 million cellular IoT devices’ SIMs through its IoT enablement platform. In 2021, Etisalat UAE also expanded its collaboration with several leading MNCs and local companies, such as Indra and ADDC, delivering one of the largest end-to-end smart metering solutions in the region, with more than 1.2 million smart meters to be connected in the coming years.
In the B2C digital space, Etisalat UAE continued to innovate and explore new ventures. The Company unveiled a new VoIP app, GoChat messenger, with voice and video calls, instant messaging and digital content features this year, while also launching Arena Mobile, a gaming platform offering over 850 ad-free titles with mobile data included.
Etisalat UAE also introduced more insurance options, expanded its smart living devices portfolio and brought Etisalat “House of Cricket” vision one step closer to reality by hosting premium cricket content and events on e-Life and Switch TV for OTT video customers.
For its Smiles loyalty programme, which was voted the UAE’s ‘Best Discount Programme’ at the inaugural Bayut ‘Your Home, Your Choice Awards’ 2021, Etisalat UAE expanded its Blockchain-powered rewards exchange feature, which allows consumers to monitor their loyalty currencies and exchange them across platforms. It also added more high-value partners, including GEMS Education, ADNOC and Shukran loyalty programmes, enabling users to keep track of their points and swap them across platforms. Smiles users surpassed 2.6 million in 2021, following the launch of Smiles food delivery service, which was a major feature request of Smiles users.
With respect to financial services, Digital Financial Services (DFS) – Etisalat’s eWallet provider – received its upgraded license as a Stored Value Facilities (SVF) provider by the UAE Central Bank, allowing the Group to acquire Dubai Islamic Bank’s shares in DFS, raising the Group’s ownership to 100%. This acquisition will allow DFS to offer eWallet users better bundled financial services and facilitate service growth in the UAE.
In late 2021, in line with its strategy to continuously enhance relevance to consumers in the digital age, the Group signed an agreement to acquire 100% of the UAE based online grocery platform elGrocer. The move will support Etisalat UAE’s digital ambitions by enriching its services; bringing it closer to the daily lives of the consumers and unlocking synergies that drive a diversified and integrated product portfolio. elGrocer’s strong online presence in the country will complement Smiles food delivery and lifestyle offers and expand the ability to earn and redeem points at more than 7,000 outlets across the UAE.
Moving to core services, Etisalat UAE continued to blend its core and digital offerings to enhance relevance and resilience, catering to the diverse needs of the UAE population, and delivering unmatched value through a mix of unprecedented benefits.
In 2021, Etisalat UAE expanded the segmented mobile product portfolio with the introduction of novel propositions, such as Emirati Freedom, Wasel Flexi and Five-all-Rounder, as well as Youth Music On and Game On add-ons, which provide the youth segments with entertainment benefits bundled with data.
In addition, Etisalat UAE introduced its eLife Ultra portfolio of services offering additional digital benefits along with ultra-fast speeds, and provided free speed upgrades to all its customers, including a 1 Gbps speed boost to its eLife Unlimited users to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding.
Moreover, Etisalat UAE has enhanced its Mobile Service Centre to give more visibility and control to business customers, providing them with user-friendly self-service capabilities, real-time usage visibility, and a subscriptions recommendation engine based on usage behaviour.
In terms of customer care, Etisalat UAE focused on scaling up the use of AI-powered virtual assistants, which plays a pivotal role in serving its customers faster and more effectively. This helped Etisalat UAE achieve a notable increase in end-to-end AI-enabled care completion rates, as well as improved satisfaction ratings, which was recognised through a number of customer experience awards this year.
Etisalat UAE continues to harness and adopt the latest technologies for the benefit of its customers. In 2021, Etisalat UAE expanded its 5G network, providing better coverage and unmatched experience to its customers, and engaged with B2B customers and partners in advanced 5G deployments and Proofs of Concept, such as Ajmax X Autonomous Vehicle, ADNOC Smart Petrol Stations, and Smart Ports.
Etisalat UAE also launched the next generation Wi-Fi 6 services for the governmental, enterprise and SMB sectors, catering to the increased demand by customers for higher speed and bandwidth. In addition, the Company extended the availability of many of its business and consumer services over its 5G network, including eLife Triple Play, Video surveillance, and Enterprise SDWAN services, as well as various proof of concepts for Industry 4.0 applications.
Etisalat UAE Wholesale Services maintained its leading status as the largest international voice hubbing carrier, the leading SMS hub and the most resilient international connectivity provider.
In 2021, Etisalat UAE signed – as part of a consortium – the supply contract of the Africa-1 submarine cable, which will strengthen Etisalat UAE’s reach to Africa and provide additional diversity to its international network towards Europe.
Etisalat UAE also expanded its SmartHub facilities with a new data centre in Dubai, enhancing customers’ experience through content-rich services, such as video streaming, gaming, and financial trading applications.
Additionally, it has reinforced its reputation as the operator with the largest roaming footprint globally, continuously adding more 4G and 5G roaming partners. With almost 100 5G roaming partners as of year-end, Etisalat UAE customers can enjoy 5G services across the globe.
Fostering open innovation through its #FutureNow scale-up programme remains a strategic pillar for Etisalat UAE. The Company continues to enhance the innovation ecosystem in the UAE, increasing traction in existing partnerships such as DIFC Fintech Hives and Dubai Future Accelerators, and signing new strategic agreements with some of the most important private sector and government institutions, such as Hub71 and Abu Dhabi Investment Office.
In addition to Etisalat Innovation Centre in Dubai, Etisalat UAE also officially inaugurated its second Innovation Centre in Abu Dhabi in October, helping customers discover the best and latest technologies, and serving as an inspiration to digitise their businesses.
Etisalat UAE also launched the ‘Digital Premium Internet’ service, a unique enterprise proposition providing internet bundled with digital services, applying an “à la carte” model, allowing an on-demand selection of various add-ons.
Etisalat UAE prides itself on building one of the best networks globally. This year, it was named the leading operator worldwide in terms of mobile network performance for the second year in a row and maintained the #1 rank globally in fibre network penetration.
In 2021, it deployed cognitive network planning technologies, enabling a zero-touch automated forecast of network capacity planning and expansion activities. Moreover, in the spirit of Group collaboration, Etisalat UAE extended the use of the Mobile Networks Intelligent Network (A3) platform to be used across the Group.
Etisalat UAE is taking serious steps towards transforming its network and IT into a cloud/AI stack model and built a hybrid multi-cloud set-up for IT backbone. The Company is committed to leading in 5G and providing the best 5G experience to its customers, with coverage of main cities reaching up to 95% by the end of 2021. Moreover, as the official Telecommunications Partner for Expo 2020 Dubai, Etisalat UAE worked hand-in-hand with the Expo team to ensure seamless connectivity for organisers and visitors alike.
A once in a lifetime occasion deserved a campaign like no other. To mark the 50th National Day of the UAE, Etisalat UAE launched a campaign to celebrate this momentous occasion.
The UAE is a beacon of hope in the world – a shining example of tolerance and unity. Embodying the spirit of the union, and exemplifying the Group’s brand promise that “Together Matters”, it launched a unique campaign with the message of “50 Years United in Celebration”.
The campaign honoured the memory of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed, and showcased the achievements of the UAE over the past 50 years. The campaign also showed the sense of unity, and belonging that expats feel for the UAE, and the promise of the next 50 years for the nation.
People from all sectors of the society participated in the campaign; from Sheikhs to ministers, sports stars and media personalities to influencers, Emiratis and expats.
The main campaign film was accompanied by a multicultural song, performed by the UAE’s pre-eminent vocal artist, Ahlam. This helped elevate the campaign, and instantly ushered the song into the rich lore of UAE National Day songs.
The campaign achieved widespread success, and the admiration of the denizens of the UAE, across both social and traditional media. It showcased the sense of togetherness that people in the UAE feel for each other, in a way that only Etisalat UAE can achieve.
In the year ahead, Etisalat UAE remains committed to being a partner for its customers and a pillar in its community. Future prospects are positive but dictate a different strategy to address challenges and capture opportunities, and therefore demand a radical approach in managing market dynamics and delivering growth aspirations.
Hence, Etisalat UAE will be executing a new strategy that is beyond defending the core. It will emphasise themes around growing and scaling digital verticals, transforming the network, building a customer-focused and agile-digital telco, while operating in a performance driven culture that promotes talent in general and UAE Nationals in particular.
Etisalat UAE is excited to be part of Expo 2020, which will last until the end of Q1 2022, and is working to ensure it plays a key role in a range of key upcoming projects related to the UAE’s ‘Towards the next 50’ initiative.
Connecting a new world at Expo 2020
As the Digital Services Premier Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, Etisalat UAE connects a whole new world for the largest event ever staged in the Arab region, welcoming 192 countries and millions of visitors from across the globe over the course of six months.
Ahead of the opening, Etisalat UAE built the necessary robust infrastructure by applying the most advanced 5G network and technology solutions, cementing its reputation as a leading technology brand on the global stage. For the event, Etisalat UAE delivered and is operating various cloud and digital applications, including the Expo portal, visitor mobile applications, venue booking solution, interactive digital map, and other business analysis and reporting solutions.
Etisalat has also deployed a state-of-the-art telecommunication infrastructure, including more than 600 km of fibre cables, more than 4,000 WiFi access-points, and more than 100 in-building coverage solutions. The partnership with Expo 2020 goes beyond technology infrastructure, as Etisalat UAE launched a volunteer campaign across the UAE community calling for support in bringing ‘The World’s Greatest Show’ to life during the lead-up to the event. During Expo 2020, which began in October 2021 and culminates at the end of March 2022, Etisalat UAE remains present on site through mobile service hubs across the venue, as well as at a business hospitality pavilion and other branded spaces. Expo 2020 Dubai is the first commercial 5G enterprise customer in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region to access 5G services, enabling Etisalat UAE to set a benchmark for the region, and globally and positioning the UAE as an innovation leader in technology and infrastructure. This milestone is aligned with the Group’s vision to ‘Drive the digital future to empower societies’, and its continuous efforts to enhance the UAE’s reputation as a leader in innovation, infrastructure, and technological development.
Maroc Telecom Group
Fixed Broadband Subscribers
Digital transformation and innovation are strategic priorities for Maroc Telecom Group, which continues to invest purposefully to extend and strengthen its networks in all territories and offer the latest technologies. This year, Maroc Telecom launched a new brand, ‘Moov Africa’, which brings together its subsidiaries under a single visual identity, thus reinforcing its strategic positioning as the benchmark operator on the African continent.
During this year of accelerating success and performance, Maroc Telecom maintained its focus and commitment to supporting digital transformation and making technological innovation accessible to as many people as possible.
To meet the increasing demand for data, the Company’s Mobile Postpaid offers and Prepaid Passes were enhanced and its Fixed Internet speed increased, ensuring a positive experience for its customers, while offering them enhanced services and regular promotions.
To help customers buy smartphones, significant price discounts were offered, in particular via special e-boutique flash sales, with a 100% digital customer experience.
In order to bring access to social networks closer to the masses, Maroc Telecom launched the Facebook Autoflex service, allowing users to stay connected to their community even after their rate plan has been used up.
The Company also seeks to support its customers in their daily digital uses by enhancing its catalogue of internet accessories with new references, such as access points, repeaters, and mesh routers for a better WiFi range.
As part of its innovative strategy, Maroc Telecom has a catalogue of connected objects on the topics of security, comfort, and health in partnership with internationally renowned suppliers. It also pioneered the eSIM in Morocco, a digital SIM that allows users with a compatible smartphone to activate their line simply by scanning a QR code.
Concerning content services, Maroc Telecom launched “MT TV”, the first convergent service offering a better high-definition streaming experience, rich content of TV channels and VoD produced by the biggest studios and advanced features.
Maroc Telecom also supported businesses by facilitating rapid access to digitalisation and teleworking by enhancing the MT VISIO videoconferencing service catalogue with the “Zoom Business” solution, a unified communications platform based on video.
Maroc Telecom Group continued to invest in broadband and ultra-broadband to meet the growing needs of its customers for data and voice services. Across its geographic footprint in West Africa, its investments focused on the development and modernisation of infrastructure to improve coverage and mobile data speeds.
In Morocco, investments have been directed towards the development of optical fibre using FTTH (Fibre-to-the-Home) technology and the improvement of Mobile Data speeds offered to customers. Moreover, Maroc Telecom’s 4G mobile network covers 99% of the Moroccan population as of the end of 2021.
With regards to its subsidiaries, Maroc Telecom has pursued its strategy of rolling out mobile broadband technologies through the continuation of programmes to extend and increase the density of data coverage and the development of FTTH fixed-line residential networks in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Chad.
As part of its ongoing digital transformation strategy, Maroc Telecom has implemented several projects and initiatives to better meet users’ expectations and improve the quality of the customer experience.
This year, Maroc Telecom provided customers with a more simple, fluid, and secure customer experience for its digital services. It also continued to modernise and diversify the automatic payment methods widely adopted by customers, both digital and physical, direct and via third party partners.
The Company also integrated social networks into its customer relationship management to interact directly with customers. In addition, it has set up and enhanced its digital channels, allowing customers to consult invoices online via Selfcare or via WhatsApp. Throughout the year, interactive terminals were upgraded for the payment of bills and the purchase of refills by credit card, while exclusive promotions and dedicated raffles supported increased customer recruitment via the digital e-shop.
The processing of customer files was also transitioned to digital platforms with the deployment of electronic signature pads. The protection of personal data is essential to Maroc Telecom, which has been ISO 27001 certified since 2007, ensuring the protection of customer data by the Company.
In 2021, Maroc Telecom rebranded its 11 subsidiaries in Africa as ‘Moov Africa’. With more than 70 million customers on the continent, Moov Africa brings together its subsidiaries under a single visual identity, marking a further step in its international development and further strengthening its strategic positioning as a benchmark telecommunications player in Africa.
The new identity illustrates the vision of Maroc Telecom, “Africa on the move”, which is founded on the principle of sharing the Company’s know-how and its capacity for innovation for the benefit of the countries and communities where it operates.
In 2021, Maroc Telecom and Moov Africa will accelerate their growth journey, bringing market-leading services and offers to support and empower the people, businesses, and government partners across Africa.
Mobily executed its strategy and delivered record results during 2021, driven by the committed focus of its employees towards the Company’s vision, overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to post another strong financial performance and successful year.
During 2021, Mobily continued to create value for its customers and stakeholders through a range of innovative initiatives, while investing in its infrastructure, people and sustainability, while continuing to deliver market leading customer experience.
Through its partnership with Nokia, it successfully piloted 4G and 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) network slicing – the first sliced FWA deployment in the world. The solution will allow Mobily to offer new FWA services to priority consumer and enterprise customers, while also enabling slicing per application, including voice, data, online gaming, or home office applications.
Mobily and Nokia also extended their managed services partnership by signing a three-year agreement under which Nokia will manage and maintain the radio and transport network in Riyadh and other regions and completed a narrowband ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) network deployment that connected more than 4,000 sites and enhanced IoT cell radius coverage to better serve its enterprise customers.
Mobily partnered with Ericsson as well this year to deploy a new software package on its 5G network in Saudi Arabia. This is intended to boost upload speeds and enhance the user experience, in line with Mobily’s aim to provide a high-quality network performance to contribute to the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
As part of Mobily’s leadership in 5G technologies, Mobily signed an agreement with the Saudi General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monshaat) to enable entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium enterprises to adopt innovations in technologies to achieve sustainability, efficiency, and growth in the Saudi market by leveraging advanced 5G technologies.
Mobily also launched Mobily TV service, a video-on-demand viewing service that provides a large number of the most popular and newest films, series, documentaries and other entertainment for children.
Mobily also launched the Fixed Number Portability (FNP) service for SIP Trunk product, allowing customers to keep their existing landline numbers when switching from any service provider to Mobily.
In terms of facilitating eCommerce, Mobily and Tech Mahindra signed an agreement to implement an advanced eCommerce platform, Blue Marble, which will contribute to increasing customers satisfaction and digital revenue. The platform will help automate all digital channels customers’ orders and integrate it with Mobily systems, payment gateway and the last mile delivery systems for shipment, in addition to enhancing time-to-market and customer experience.
Mobily also launched Amazon Prime as the first mobile operator in the Kingdom to provide the service – which offers customers shopping features and exclusive access to deals on Amazon.sa, as well as video streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and more.
Rising two places since last year, Mobily ranked seventh on the list of the most valuable brands in the Kingdom this year by Brand Finance. Mobily’s rising brand value made it ‘The fastest growing telecommunications company in the Middle East’ in 2021, with a 17% brand value growth compared to last year to reach SAR 4.8 billion, along with the highest Brand Strength Index score in its history, AA+ rating.
These exceptional results are a direct result of the collective and sustained efforts by Mobily employees to raise the level of service and customer experience, and to develop the Company’s infrastructure and digital transformation, thus strengthening Mobily’s status in the ICT sector, both in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East.
In the coming year, Mobily will build on this positive momentum and strong performance in 2021, continuing to execute its strategy, innovate for its customers and invest in its infrastructure and its people, in order to ultimately create strong and sustainable value for its shareholders and all its stakeholders.
Activating eSports in Saudi Arabia
As part of Mobily eSports’ mission to raise awareness on the many benefits, and potential dangers, of online gaming, it launched a campaign announcing a gaming headset made specifically for children called “ProtectSet”.
The headset was said to be designed to automatically change a child’s voice to sound older, which was intended to decrease the risk of being targeted by online predators. The campaign generated significant demand for the product but, it was then revealed that “ProtectSet” was a faux marketing campaign, and the product did not commercially exist. This resulted in much press and discussion about how technology is not enough to solve such problems, and how parents’ involvement and common sense dialogue with their kids is important to enjoy the true benefits of safe gaming.
The campaign was a massive hit with the community and media alike, and nabbed several reputable advertising awards in the process, including Dubai Lynx, Cannes Lion, and the prestigious NY Festival. The campaign won two gold awards, two silver, two bronze, and was shortlisted more than nine times.
Etisalat Misr continues to accelerate its organic growth while capturing increased market share and providing market leading services and offers to enrich customers’ lives. During this year, Etisalat Misr focused on supporting the ecosystem towards greater financial inclusion, while enabling mega projects and the transition to a digital economy, in line with Egypt’s 2030 Vision.
During this era of hyper-connectivity that is reshaping the way we interact and live, Etisalat Misr put the fundamentals in place early to capitalise on the opportunity to support innovation and disrupt the industry. The Company has focused on providing an expanded range of services through higher bandwidth – educational services, entertainment services, digital-enterprise building solutions – to better serve customers and grow its business.
In 2021, it announced the introduction of a new experience that integrates its service offerings with entertainment to deliver a more robust and nuanced approach to customer engagement. This is in line with its vision “to be Egypt’s top digital telco brand”, a clear direction to respond to the new normal, focusing on internal and external digital transformation through the execution of its three-year strategic plan.
This year Etisalat Misr demonstrated its strength and resilience in persevering through a challenging operating landscape. As the second largest operator in the market, it succeeded in surpassing the market leader on service revenue growth rates, while growing its active subscriber base to a record level this year, driven by focused efforts on mobile internet and segmented offerings.
The Company’s mobile internet user base steadily increased, thanks to launches of relevant and innovative offerings, while it captured first position across all customer experience measures (TRI*M and NPS), demonstrating its high standing in the Egyptian market.
Etisalat Misr’s new Mega Monthly Bundles from Super Connect drove home service revenue growth and renewals by doubling usage on customers’ favourite apps, including unlimited WhatsApp after fully consuming the bundle. It also coined Egypt’s first digital entertainment currency, e-Coins, to gamify the entertainment services redemption experience for high-value customers.
Etisalat Misr obtained a license from the Central Bank of Egypt to provide electronic payment services through QR Codes, which is an easy and secure way to implement and accept payments electronically without the need for traditional POS devices. This service will be rolled out across the largest number of outlets possible to support the merchants and their customers.
In alignment with Etisalat Misr’s overall mission to deliver insightful segmented services to enrich lives in a changing world, it continued to rapidly accelerate its digitisation programme this year. It is focused on digitalising a number of key retail services for consumers, accelerating m-commerce capabilities, and introducing a number of entertainment apps that deliver exclusive content, in order to satisfy today’s consumers’ growing appetite for quality content.
Launching its Etisalat Music, Etisalat TV and Etisalat Sports applications positioned Etisalat Misr as the most powerful and relevant brand in the market. Along with its existing strong sub-brands portfolio, this has further strengthened its position, elevated its overall brand image, and resulted in Etisalat Misr leading the market in Net Promoter Score (NPS) since the start of 2021.
As the market leader in terms of its network and digital services, Etisalat Misr was confident in claiming “Aqwa b Keteer” or “The Most Powerful” in its Ramadan 2021 brand campaign. The campaign, which exceeded 100 million social media views, featured megastars, such as Nancy Ajram and Amir Karara, to deliver a message of exclusivity – Etisalat provides customers a unique proposition in Egypt.
During this eventful year, Etisalat Misr also launched the ‘My Etisalat App’, which drove increasing customer acquisition, engagement, and revenue.
Supporting of the nationwide digital transformation efforts, the Company also began providing e-signature certificates, e-seal, and time stamp services for both individuals and businesses. Additionally, the digital signature aims to link government services to the private and civil sectors.
Etisalat Misr will seek to leverage its unique position and proposition in the Egyptian market to deliver strong growth and financial performance in the coming year, while continuing to support and enable its customers, employees, and partners to achieve their goals through the power of its advanced telecommunications and technology offering.
New services launched by Etisalat Misr this year included:
- Availing a reliable laaS for all local enterprises
- Acquisitions: 240 VDCs
- Revenues: 10m EGP 1st year.
- Increase the penetration of Etisalat Cash through enterprise
- Providing OTT services (Collection, Lending,… etc).
- Increase Etisalat cash base by 10%
- Untap transactional traffic potential in the market
- Banking and Service companies are on-top of list
- 50% expected growth in Bulk SMS revenues
Fixed Broadband Subscribers
The Group’s Pakistan operations continued their strong momentum this year to deliver innovative new offerings to customers, establish new strategic partnerships and create shareholder value, all while enhancing cooperation with each other and overcoming the challenges of a volatile market.
2021 witnessed increasing cooperation and alignment between PTCL and Ufone to enhance efficiency through optimal utilisation of network and infrastructure. PTCL and Ufone initiated several projects and initiatives, including site consolidation, space rationalisation, unified security solution, contact centre consolidation, transmission and RAN optimisation, and synergies in various other areas.
In addition, several synergy projects relating to Ubank were executed, to gradually increase the share of banking services being utilised by PTCL and Ufone through the Group’s own banking segment.
During 2021, as market dynamics drove a rebound in customer demand, PTCL saw both its retail and enterprise segments return to growth. The increased dependence on reliable connectivity services has driven PTCL to upgrade its infrastructure and offer customised solutions, while fully embracing digitalisation throughout the organisation to capture the market opportunity in connectivity and managed services.
The focus of capital investments during 2021 remained on the expansion of the FTTH network. Some investments were also made to safeguard the existing customer base, while expansion in its networks were made to meet the growth requirements of both PTCL and Ufone. IP Edge Transport Network Transformation and Billing System upgrade also formed a major portion of the year’s capital investment.
Committed to continuous innovation
In 2021, PTCL embarked on a mission to transform and modernise its edge network through the implementation of a more robust solution. This strategic initiative will see PTCL’s long-haul capacity increase to multiple terabits per seconds, capable of delivering better services across the country. In Phase One, 46 of the most critical sites were selected and prepared for imminent upgrade.
In line with its commitment to serving its valued customers with state-of-the-art solutions and enhancing their experience with proven technology products, a project was launched to replace its existing inter-city and long-haul network with a state-of-the-art 100G OTN network capable of handling multiple terabits of traffic per second and delivering better services across the country. This initiative helped in sourcing modern, resilient, and scalable transport network with advanced features.
PTCL also strengthened its existing portfolio of cloud products by offering its PaaS (Platform as a Service) to financial services institutions in Pakistan. It also launched a cloud-based digital education platform called Q-Taleem to enable the delivery of an end-to-end virtual educational experience, from online training to support for boarding and operations, through a single window.
Bringing a digital sub-brand to life
As an ICT pioneer in Pakistan, PTCL is focused on accelerating digitalisation through large-scale hardware and infrastructure projects that ensure the Company remains at the forefront of the digitalisation of Pakistan and provides its customers with the most reliable connectivity.
This year, PTCL launched Flash Fibre, a premium, youth-oriented Fibre-to-the-Home sub-brand to cater to the communication, surfing, gaming, and entertainment needs of the present and emerging generation of high-data users.
With faster, more reliable internet speeds and an even better user experience, Flash Fibre generated significant interest in the market. Currently available in the large cities, it succeeded in attracting new customers and enhancing the reputation of the brand.
Putting customers first
In 2021, PTCL continued to improve its network and service to enhance customer experience and satisfaction. In line with the Customer Happiness Index framework, various network improvement projects were executed to enable more data, speed, and consistency of service for the entire customer base. As a result, there was a significant reduction in overall complaints this year, continuing a positive trend for the last two years.
This year also saw PTCL sign an agreement with Nokia to enhance the service management platform (SMP) capabilities to introduce Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and selfcare channels to support omni-channel experience for the swift resolution of customer complaints and enhanced operational efficiency. The new selfcare channel empowers customers to carry out their own troubleshooting with ease and convenience, which delivered significantly reduced service agent and customer effort and improved first call resolution.
PTCL also partnered with WhaleCloud to modernise its charging and billing platform, automating manual processes, and enabling customers to get their bills on demand, while allowing the Company to manage customer debt and credit more effectively. Finally, this year PTCL’s mobile broadband service, CharJi, which offers unlimited internet packages for the whole month launched a nationwide campaign to further solidify its footprint and attract new customers with higher internet speeds throughout Pakistan.
Ufone delivered a strong financial and operational performance in 2021, supported by network rollout and upgrades and multiple commercial initiatives designed to spur business growth and sustainability. The Company’s revenue continued its positive momentum, bolstered by growth in data services and its super card portfolio. Moreover, Ufone maintained its position among the top two operators in the country in terms of ‘customer loyalty measures’ this year, based on Net Promoter Score (NPS).
During 2021, demand for cellular mobile broadband in Pakistan continued to grow and therefore data throughput and Mobile Broadband (MBB) coverage remained a major focus for mobile operators. As a result, Ufone participated in the Government’s auction of spectrum for MBB services and won 9 MHz additional spectrum in Ufone’s preferred 1800 MHz Band at PKR 47.2 billion. The newly acquired spectrum, coupled with aggressive coverage expansion plans, form cornerstones of Ufone’s business strategy for the coming years to improve its competitive positioning in the market.
With the acquisition of the spectrum, investment focus was on upgrading network sites to enable 4G services. Approximately 250 new 4G sites were deployed in 2021 to enhance coverage across the country. In addition, 4,928 carrier upgrades were completed, above our annual target of 4,789 upgrades, to address capacity challenges in areas with higher data usage and demand. The strategic objective is to tap the growing need for subscribers’ data utilisation, monetise the spectrum and improve customer experience.
Meanwhile, Ufone’s data strategy centred on revamping the entire portfolio by introducing new competitive packages with more volume at market competitive prices. The acquisition of additional spectrum has provided the opportunity for Ufone to address the growing data needs of its customers more effectively.
Ufone touches emotions on Pakistan’s Independence DayThroughout COVID-19, Ufone was a beacon of hope through its many incentives to support those worst hit by the pandemic and brighten the overall spirit of the country. Pakistan’s Independence Day acted as a spark to rekindle hope, love, brotherhood, and humanity.
As a true Pakistani brand, Ufone launched a campaign to reignite the happiness and sense of belonging to the beautiful country and its rich heritage, culture, and colour. The campaign featured wholesome Pakistani faces with smiles that each told its own story.
Through this campaign, Ufone honoured people from different provinces, religions, ethnicities, ages, and genders. Customer-centricity has always been the cornerstone of Ufone, and the campaign visualised its deep connection with the people of the country, its valued customers.
The campaign was received like a breath of fresh air and much appreciated for its emotive and authentic messaging that served to brighten the spirits of the people of Pakistan.
Innovative services and solutions
In 2021, Ufone relaunched its digital financial services brand, ‘UPaisa’, with a vision to prioritise customer ease and convenience. In a market where the majority of customers still rely on traditional modes of payment, UPaisa provides a hassle-free digital services experience through a mobile app that unlocks faster and easier transactions.
Following a positive initial response, UPaisa launched multiple offers and promotions throughout the year, primarily through digital campaigns, that delivered 75% growth in the active base during the year. Transaction volumes also increased by more than 140%, positioning UPaisa for further traction and growth as it continues to enrich its service portfolio and expands the channel moving forward. In terms of 5G, Ufone successfully conducted a 5G trial after requisite authorisations from the regulator and participated in the Next-Generation Mobile Services Auction (NGMSA) 2021 in Pakistan, in addition to the Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir territories.
Ever since the launch of BizEaze, Ufone has continued to enhance its proposition for business customers. In 2021, the Company upgraded its online portal through various value additions and improvements in overall user experience. Through this portal, customers have the freedom and convenience to not only choose from customised voice, data and SMS bundles based on their needs but also to share with other linked mobile numbers.
Strong focus on Customer Value Management (CVM) delivered benefits for the organisation this year, with CVM revenue contribution being enhanced to ~7% from 5% last year. Recent 4G rollout opened new horizons for Ufone to grow and CVM is playing a role to bring in more 4G internet users. It is focused on increasing lifetime value of existing internet users and working closely with relevant stakeholders to increase penetration of 4G-enabled SIMs within the Ufone subscriber base. Applying machine learning models, Ufone also introduced new AI models for retention and engagement, while also moving towards digital CVM for enhanced customer experience.
To enhance digital customer experience, Ufone added further incentives within the ‘My Ufone’ app, including engaging cricket-savvy customers through CrickWick, a local cricket news services provider, to keep its customers updated on the latest cricket match scores. In addition, it improved user experience and security of the app, which is continuously being upgraded based on customer insights to increase customer engagement.
In line with the Group’s initiative to maximise synergy among all Group companies, Ufone migrated the GPRS Roaming Exchange (GRX) carrier to the Group, resulting in significant operational cost savings.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia remained key data roaming destinations for Ufone customers. Ufone continued to leverage this by offering “Roam Like Home” offers to capitalise on the opportunity presented by the Expo 2020 Dubai. In addition, in a first for the Pakistan market, Ufone launched a Gift Data Bucket enabling customers to receive 1 GB data bucket gifts from other subscribers while roaming in Saudi Arabia or the UAE.
In the coming year, the Group’s Pakistan operations will look to continue to build on the positive momentum established during a successful 2021.
PTCL will leverage its FTTH network to capture growth opportunities in the expanding data segment, offering superior quality fixed line services to consumers and enterprises, while connecting the towers of the mobile operators with its fibre network and delivering a comprehensive suite of business services.
Meanwhile, Ufone is set to capitalise on the opportunity presented by 4G spectrum acquisition through an aggressive network rollout and upgrade strategy. In the year ahead, Ufone will upgrade ~95% of its network to 4G and significantly enhance coverage, thereby reducing the existing coverage gap with the competition and allowing Ufone to improve the quality of its services and enhance customer experience.
Its network strategy will be complemented by aggressive subscriber acquisition and a focus on expanding data services. To fully leverage growth from data, Ufone will focus on offering competitive products and tapping into the high-end data savvy segment, while the MBB portfolio will be further enhanced by increasing reach across Pakistan.