UAE's switch from copper to fibre fixed-line infrastructure is due to be completed by 2012, enabling significant growth in the pay-TV and fixed VoIP sectors for the first time, according to analyst firm Pyramid Research.

Pyramid’s report - UAE: Telecom Duopoly Stifles Competition in One of the Richest Markets – profiles the country's telecommunications, media and technology sectors, analyses both the fixed and mobile sectors, tracks the market shares of technologies and monitors the introduction and spread of new technologies.

Hussam Barhoush, senior analyst at Pyramid and author of the report, said: “As well as providing a boost to broadband revenue, the change [from copper to fibre] will enable significant growth in the pay-TV and fixed VoIP sectors.

"The smaller and newer of the UAE's two operators, du, with its limited coverage, moved completely to an all-fibre network in 2008, while incumbent Etisilat has already caught up and surpassed the new operator by covering all of Abu Dhabi, making it the first capital in the world with full fibre coverage.” Etisalat plans to have upgraded its whole fixed network to fibre by 2012.

Pyramid expects the switch to all-fibre fixed networks by 2012 to lead to growth in pay-TV adoption as operators bundle triple-play packages for end users.

“Due to the high income levels, fixed and mobile services have not been bundled to date; this leads to higher income for market players,” added Barhoush. “However, the fibre network will pave the way for convergence.

"The current investments in fibre and upcoming investments in LTE will make it imperative for market players to develop smart marketing and technical strategies to foster the upcoming growth.”