UAE telco Du reveals 200% surge in use of video services

Published: 26 April 2020 - 11:53 a.m.

UAE telco Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) - also known as Du - has revealed a 200 percent increase in its video streaming services, including Zoom, since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.

The app has been used extensively across the country following lockdown restrictions announced by the UAE Government, by businesses and education professionals teaching lessons from home.

CEO John Dennelind told Arabian Business: “It’s (Zoom) one of the platforms that’s included in our collaboration tools and it’s also used by some of the schools, some use the others that we have on the network that are now open and they are all contributing to an effective way of distance learning and distant collaboration.

“I think we have a lot of choices out there and we cover a big need for the industry and the initiatives around distance learning.”

Surge in home broadband

The increase in usage fuelled a 40 percent increase in fixed traffic during the first few days of the coronavirus lockdown.

At the same time the UAE telco has announced a more modest 10 percent increase in its mobile side.

Dennelind said the spike in demand for fixed services happened “in a matter of days” as the UAE ordered a complete lockdown across the country, closing offices and shopping malls.

He said: “As people are forced into their homes during lockdown, the traffic moves with people into their homes and that’s where we see most of the fixed traffic increasing. We were able to deal with this movement of traffic pretty much overnight in the beginning of this Covid crisis when the traffic really exploded and went up 40 percent in just a week’s time.”

Entertainment, streaming services

He also identified interesting trends in consumer behaviour during the times of lockdown and movement restrictions.

“People are working a lot more on the collaboration tools that are now available for video conferencing and schooling at home. That’s really obvious,” he said.

“The entertainment and streaming services have also gone up significantly. That’s a core part of our traffic increase. That tells you a lot about what people do, they work and school during the day and they relax and watch a movie and listen to music at night.”

Last week EITC announced a 4.8 percent drop in revenues to AED2.99 billion for the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year (AED3.14bn), which was blamed on a contraction in mobile and other revenues.

Mobile data usage

According to a company statement released on Tuesday, mobile revenues for Q1 declined by 9.3 percent year-on-year (yoy) to AED1.5bn “impacted by lower voice revenues and a reduction in the prepaid customer base”.

Dennelind said the 10 percent increase in mobile usage since the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, but admitted that had reduced somewhat since the onset of the lockdown.

He said: “On the mobile side, we saw initially people using a lot of data before the full lockdown, people were moving and the day-to-day service and we saw that come up 10 percent, both from mobile data usage but also on the handheld normal data usage. That has also come down since lockdown because more people are at home and they’re using the fixed WiFi systems.”

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