Du eyes bigger slice of social media
UAE telecom operator du is eyeing a bigger share of social media aficionados as social sites have become the popular choice among the consumers. Operators across the world are facing stiff competition from social media sites, which are dealing major blows to telcos' revenues. In the UAE, more than 85 per cent of subscribers are on prepaid plans.
"The UAE has the highest social penetration rate in the world at 80 per cent while the penetration rate for Middle East is 24 per cent. An average user spends 3.3 hours per day on social media platforms," Fahad Al Hassawi, chief commercial officer at du, said after unveiling an 'Easy Social' prepaid plan, new voice and data packages in Dubai. After the UAE, Singapore comes next at 59 per cent while Australia and UK have 57 per cent penetration rates each. He said that 96 per cent of the UAE residents have a social media account and 67 per cent are using it on a daily basis.
"There is a genuine need for the right social media offerings in the market and du wants to be at the forefront," he said. The social plan with various denominations and validity provides subscribers free data for browsing Facebook, WhatsApp, BBM, Twitter and LinkedIn on top of the regular credit. To avail this offer, he said that subscribers need to dial *135*444# to move from the current prepaid plan or buy a new prepaid SIM card. Al Hassawi said that this is just the beginning and "we will be offering more plans and also in the postpaid SIM." Data contributes more than 30 per cent to du's total revenues.
"We are not surrendering to the OTT (over-the-top) players but we are dealing with the reality in the market. We are offering what the customers want and acknowledging their needs and changing habits as well as our continuous efforts to simplify our products while offering customers the best value for money," Al Hassawi said.
Ahmad Mokhles, executive vice-president of consumer business at du, said that there are no hidden charges and it is transparent. "We are also providing a new policy called 'customer credit protection' where no customer will feel being cheated," he said.
When asked what will happen when WhatsApp and Facebook offer VoIP calls in future, Al Hassawi said that du is in direct communication with all the social platforms in the world and it all falls under the directive of TRA.