If we’re going to innovate, let’s start with the UAE’s Internet
July 14, 2013 2:07 by Alex Malouf
Innovation is one of those words that everyone over-utilises in recent years. One such innovative story that recently emerged is that of Abu Dhabi-based satellite operator, Yahsat, when it announced that it had launched satellite-based broadband services in the UAE through its YahClick subsidiary.
Now, UAE residents and businesses will finally be able to choose between two Internet providers, be it a fixed line from Etisalat or Du, or a satellite service from YahClick (I’m not counting mobile data services here).
But let’s step back for a second. The National, which was one of the first newspapers to break the story, compared pricing from the two incumbent operators with what YahClick will be offering. According to the news piece, business users can buy monthly packages from YahClick from AED600 up to AED2, 500. Consumers will have to pay between AED220 to AED700 a month for YahClick’s services. In contrast, Etisalat’s cheapest monthly broadband offering, inclusive of a landline, is AED259, while Du’s is AED249.
Globally, the services sector is one of the most important sectors for business growth and creation. That statement is no less true for us in this region. Competition is a critical driver of performance and innovation. As research has shown, countries that make their markets more open and competitive achieve greater productivity.
One of my favourite lines about the Internet is from a McKinsey report, which states that ‘countries that have benefited the most from the Internet’s contribution to growth have tended to have open and highly competitive Internet ecosystems.’
The more competition we have in the services sector, especially when it comes to the Internet, the more, we as individuals, communities and businesses, will benefit from an open Internet system and, the resulting innovation. Dubai, in particular, aims to be a centre for new technologies, be it biotech, or renewable.
Creating an atmosphere that encourages real competition, greater efficiencies and real innovation is something that all countries in the region can benefit from and should strive towards for future generations.