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TRA to protect consumers from misleading marketing communications


Healthy amount of competition between operators expected, authority reveals.

December 26, 2013 1:06 by

The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) is building the core ICT regulatory framework for the UAE’s burgeoning knowledge economy. In particular, it supports the UAE’s ICT sector by safeguarding competition to protect the interests of subscribers, enhancing the readiness of e-services and encouraging investment, innovation and development, while facilitating a broader ecosystem for human capital development.

The TRA regulates the sector according to the provisions of the telecommunications law and its regulatory framework. Of direct relevance to this topic is the TRA Regulatory Policy governing marketing communications and practises, which became effective on February 1, 2008.  Clearly, the policy has been in effect for some time and its provisions are well known to the licensees.  The policy is published on the TRA’s website, thus can be read by all stakeholders, including licensees and consumers.

It is public knowledge that the TRA has instructed the licensees Etisalat and du to be technically and commercially ready to launch the MNP service on December 22. Both licensees have declared their readiness to the TRA and even the authority announced its willingness to launch the MNP service by December 30. That service is intended to promote further competition in mobile communications in the UAE and will enable consumers to switch between licensees, while retaining their mobile numbers.

The TRA notes that Etisalat and du has embraced its instructions and each has started a respective media campaign to promote awareness in consumers of the advent of MNP in the UAE.  It is generally pleased to see that both licensees are preparing themselves for the launch of MNP and that each is conducting separate media campaigns.  The media campaigns are complex and involve different marketing communications delivered by different media, including newspaper advertisements, press statements, web pages, SMS marketing and video clips.

The TRA expects a healthy amount of competition between the licensees. However, it requires each licensee to conduct its respective campaigns in accordance with the provisions of its regulatory framework.

The Marketing and Communications Practises Policy aims to protect consumers from misleading, confusing, deceptive or otherwise inappropriate marketing communications and practises by telecommunications licensees.

During the past few weeks, the TRA has found it necessary to intervene and instruct Etisalat and du to remove certain material from their respective campaigns, as it considered certain material (published by each licensee) to be in violation of the regulatory framework. Both licensees have complied with the TRA’s instructions and respectively removed inappropriate marketing communications.

The TRA will continue to monitor the campaigns and will intervene again if necessary to protect consumers from inappropriate marketing material.  However, it notes that it is the responsibility of the licensees to comply with the provisions of the regulatory framework. Accordingly, it urges both Etisalat and du to continue their respective campaigns responsibly. 

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