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Du and Etisalat’s 4G race: slow and steady doesn’t win this time

Du and Etisalat’s 4G race: slow and steady doesn’t win this time

Things just take longer in the UAE and the recent TRA ban on du’s marketing proves this theory.

November 13, 2011 4:15 by

Oh uncork the bottles—bubbly date drinks, of course—for the TRA has finally settled the month long issue over the marketing ban involving local telecos and the very definition of what is 4G.

In case you weren’t aware, the TRA had placed a month long ban on the UAE’s youngest teleco ‘du’ due to conflicting definitions of 4G technology.

For its part, Etisalat has been promoting its LTE (long term evolution) as the UAE’s first 4G network. And while everyone was happy with that setup, along came du bragging of offering 4G too. Here is the glitch: du isn’t using super duper LTE. Instead, it uses a particular technology called HSPA+, which offers users speeds of up to 42mbps—a blink when compared to the 100mpbs Etisalat’s LTE promises.

Now after the hoo-haa had died down, the TRA lifted its ban on du on the condition that both telecos clearly specify the kind of technology used in its marketing. This means du will now be marketing its new shinny toy as: “4G HSPA+” unlike Etisalat who will choose to accompany their smug smile with a “4G LTE”.

So whopededoo, the two “rival” telecos are back at what they do best: “competing.” Quotations aside, far be it for Kipp to be facetious on the topic—after all sales have suffered for government-owned Etisalat, when fiesty du entered the market not too long ago. Of course, du, once known as the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, is owned as follows: 40 percent by the UAE federal government; 20 percent by Mubadala Development Company (itself owned by Abu Dhabi government); 20 percent by Tecom Investments (a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, itself owned by the Government of Dubai); and 20 percent by public shareholders (chalking up to 80 percent owned by UAE government, but competition nonetheless!)

Either way, though as interesting as this story it probably would have been a lot more interesting if this occurred over a year ago before the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) redefined what classifies 4G to include LTE, WiMax and even HSPA+.

And that was well over a year ago, people! That 4G is finally rolling out here in the UAE 365 days after updates elsewhere in the world isn’t too shocking. But the fact that these bureaucratic intricacies still continue to affect the telecos marketing campaigns a year after the same question and concerns have been raised and settled else where…well that is just a little concerning. And I suppose you’ll want TRA to start talking about VoIP and Skype and Facetime…and freer internet access to huh? Good luck.

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