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.

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