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UAE telcos drag things out interminably

UAE telcos drag things out interminably

Despite the headlines, Kipp doesn’t think we’re any nearer to a competitive telecoms industry. Shame, since that’s one of the defining characteristics of an effective modern business hub.

January 3, 2011 2:53 by

Despite the headline in the National (“Etisalat and du close in on shared network”) we seem to be about as far away as ever from competition in the telecoms sector.

The National journos, bless ’em, are trying to put as much positive spin on it as possible. But no amount of wishful thinking (we’ve warned you about that before) can disguise the fact that network sharing is no closer than it was a few months ago.

You can’t even blame the official spokespersons for leading us on – they appear to be being pretty honest. “The only thing that is happening right now is test users within the companies themselves are doing the testing as far as verification,” says Khalifa al Shamsi, the senior vice president of marketing at Etisalat. “There has been no announcement about broadband coming to [those] areas yet.” It appears the National has seized on the existence of the tests as a big story on a very slow news day.

Farid Faraidooni, the chief commercial officer for du, pretty much echoed al Shamsi’s thoughts in the same piece. “We’re doing technical testing, that’s correct, but we have not put any of our employees on any of these services yet,” he said. According to the paper, there is also no word on when the TRA will approve the move.

So to recap, the two telcos are testing the possibility of the idea that they could maybe share networks, ‘you know, if everyone thinks it’s a good idea and the TRA says OK. But first things first, let’s just make sure it all works okay, hmmm?’

But in actual fact these tests have been going for ages (sorry to burst your bubble, National). Mohamad Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, said in July that, “The parties have now concluded the negotiations on complex technical and operational details of the network sharing arrangements and are currently in the process of undertaking comprehensive testing of the networks and systems interfaces.”

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