Etisalat, UAE’s largest telco group and the second largest in the MEA region, reported annual revenues of $14.1 billion, Capex of $1.7 billion with 12 percent capital intensity, $1.2 billion in network operations Opex (19 percent of total Opex), and approximately 38K employees.
As of March 2021, Etisalat had 156 million subscribers of fixed, broadband, and mobile services across its markets, concentrated in the UAE, Egypt, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Morocco, and Pakistan, MTN Consulting report said.
Etisalat’s UAE HQ has among the best fiber networks in the world. The company has made development of ultra (fixed) broadband and complementary content/media services a priority. Over 70 percent of Etisalat’s total fixed revenues come from the UAE, and fixed revenues in the UAE exceeded mobile in 2020. Mobile dominates elsewhere.
Etisalat has embraced the cloud, investing heavily in its own “SAHAB” telco cloud with help from vendor partners and Microsoft Azure. The company aims to leverage advancements in network virtualization and the adoption of cloud on the path toward programmable and software-driven networks and associated operations.
Etisalat’s Capex has averaged $2 billion over the last four years, roughly 5 percent of which is software. Etisalat spends 18-19 percent of Opex on network operations, and an estimated 5-6 percent on utilities costs (higher in north Africa).
Etisalat’s reported spend on tower/fiber leasing is small, but the ratio is higher for its Mobily associate in Saudi Arabia. In the KSA, Etisalat is developing a tower sharing company with Zain KSA. In concert with wider deployment of 5G, Etisalat expects its capital intensity to spike to 16-18 percent in 2021, from several percentage points lower in 2020.
Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia are some of the key suppliers to Etisalat, and all involved in the telco’s 5G buildout in the UAE. Other important suppliers include Cisco, as well as Ciena, CSG, IBM/Red Hat, Juniper, and NEC/Netcracker.
Etisalat’s important single contract in the last few years is its March 2018 telco cloud project, SAHAB, supplied by Red Hat, Juniper, and Netcracker, with systems integration provided by NEC.
Etisalat started to deploy open RAN in early 2020. Etisalat has deployed Parallel Wireless in Afghanistan and signed on with the Rakuten Communication Platform (RCP) in the first few months of 2021.