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Connectivity is high in the UAE’s industrial zones

The UAE is committed to providing a competitive environment for business development, attracting major investment across key economic sectors. Central to this initiative are the industrial zones, in which it is crucial that the UAE operators provide reliable connectivity to facilitate the digital transformation of industries in which the Internet of Things (IoT) is a fundamental component. Speed is not the most important parameter for the vast majority of IoT device requirements — stable and dependable networks are what matter most, especially in an industrial setting where downtime is costly. In this analysis, we have used our Emirati mobile users’ connectivity experience across five metrics to benchmark potential IoT device experience.

Compared to the national average, industrial zones have better connectivity — outperforming in Time with No Signal, overall Coverage Experience and 5G Coverage Experience — yet they lag slightly behind in Reliability Experience and Consistent Quality metrics. We have ranked our smartphone users’ experience in 10 individual industrial zones, and compared operator results for industrial zones in the UAE’s three most populous cities, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

The UAE has invested significantly in its infrastructure (and will continue to do so) to ensure that mobile access is uninterrupted across the nation. Robust and reliable network connection is essential for modern industry’s increasing dependency on IoT devices — appliances and systems constantly in communication, sending and receiving data. Autonomous control and monitoring necessitates stable and dependable networks. To evaluate how well the industrial zones in the UAE accommodate these needs, we examined five key metrics indicative of the IoT experience, comparing them across ten industrial zones with the country's average.

The country scores an impressive 9.9 points on a 10-point scale for overall Coverage Experience and five points for 5G Coverage Experience — one of the highest in the region. It is no surprise then, that in the dense, often urban environments of industrial zones our mobile users have near perfect connectivity. Industrial zones boast a perfect 10-point Coverage Experience score, and their 5G Coverage Experience is 60% higher than the national average. However, while consistency is also high in the industrial zones, they fail to outperform the national average.

Assessing the 10 separate industrial zones highlights their individual strengths and areas for improvement. Time with No Signal is low in all of the zones, with only Dubai Industrial City lagging slightly behind the national benchmark. Khalifa Industrial Zone has the lowest Time with No Signal but struggles with 5G coverage — showing that, while its large size prevents full coverage, users spend most of their time in areas where they can connect.

Four zones have perfect scores for 5G Coverage Experience — Ras Al Khor, Al Quoz, Al Qusais and Sharjah industrial areas — with the first three being in Dubai, and the last being a grouping of industrial areas in Sharjah. Their concentrated urban environments facilitate comprehensive network coverage.

While all of the zones score reasonably high for quality of service, only one zone outperforms the national average for Consistent Quality — Industrial City of Abu Dhabi. For Reliability Experience, Al Qusais, Ras Al Khor and Sharjah industrial areas outscore the UAE’s average.

We have also looked at the operator level experience, grouping the industrial zones into their respective cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. In Dubai’s industrial zones Etisalat comes out on top for all but 5G Coverage Experience. Our Etisalat users spend the most time with signal, have the best overall Coverage Experience and highest Reliability Experience, but du is not far behind — the margin between the two is especially slim for Reliability Experience, where only two points separate them. Etisalat also has the most consistent experience in Dubai’s industrial zones, with its 4.2 percentage point lead giving it a bit more of an edge over du.

In the UAE’s capital city, Abu Dhabi, the rankings are somewhat flipped on their head, with only overall Coverage Experience sharing the same leader as Dubai. Du has the lowest Time with No Signal, highest Reliability Experience and Consistent Quality. Reliability and consistency in Abu Dhabi are both considerably higher than in Dubai — du’s Consistent Quality and Reliability Experience scores beat the respective national averages of 66.1% and 853 points. Both coverage metrics are led by Etisalat and are considerably lower than the coverage seen in Dubai, around a third lower for 5G Coverage Experience. The relatively poor coverage in the Khalifa Industrial Zone likely contributes to this.

Sharjah’s results closely resemble Dubai’s, which isn’t surprising given the close proximity of the two cities. Sharjah’s industrial zone consists of 17 industrial areas, tightly packed together — leading to both operators scoring full points for coverage. Etisalat’s lead for Reliability Experience and Consistent Quality is also impressive, well above rival du and even beating the national average. Sharjah’s industrial zones’ dense footprint allows for high connectivity and reliability that suits IoT devices.

Mobile experience in the UAE's industrial zones indicates an environment conducive for the burgeoning IoT industry. Despite some areas scoring slightly below the national average in metrics such as Reliability Experience and Consistent Quality, the overwhelming majority of zones exhibit exceptional connectivity, particularly in 5G coverage. Additionally, both du and Etisalat have partnered with vendors to provide 5G private networks, further supporting businesses in industrial areas.

The UAE's industrial zones are well-equipped to best utilize IoT technologies. And as the nation continues to enhance its connectivity infrastructure, it cements its position as a leading digital economy and an attractive hub for industrial development in the digital age.