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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 Samuel Potter
Given they have been testing for quite a while, we can assume the main thing we’re now waiting on is the thumbs up from everyone’s favourite Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, (drum roll please) the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. Earlier this year we reported that Etisalat and Du and the TRA had all had a cup of tea and a biscuit and agreed that the network sharing was quite a nice idea, actually. Mohamad Al Ghanim also said then: “Users of fixed telecommunications services across the UAE will be able to access services from both operators once these are commercially launched in the coming months.” Tantalizing, but almost six months later we’re still waiting. While everyone is making the right noises, a bit like Kipp on New Year’s Eve, we aren’t getting anywhere very fast.
Kipp can quite see why Etisalat would want to drag its feet on this. It owns the vast majority of the UAE market, while Du has small pockets of Dubai only. If both companies open up their networks, Etisalat will end up giving away far more than it gains. Du is enthusiastic for the same reasons, although whether the much smaller company is ready to go national is questionable given the service Kipp currently ‘enjoys’.
Nevertheless, Kipp remains a little baffled by the time this is taking. Since the government owns 60 percent of Etisalat, and 40 percent of Du, much of the money is heading to the same place. The reasons for delaying the merged network, therefore, seems likely to be one of two things: to placate Etisalat, or to delay competition – after all, competition lowers prices, and lower prices mean less profits.
But here’s the thing: These days, a country rises or falls on its telecoms industry. And a lack of competition means a lack of innovation and excess prices – and in the long run that’s far worse for business and the country. Kipp thinks that, like the UAE’s broadband, the TRA should speed this up a little; then we’d really have something to write about.
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