Saturday, April 25, 2009

UAE: broadband competition depends on access regulation to allow du, the second operator, access to the incumbent's fixed network

[The National] Competition in the broadband internet market will emerge only when the UAE’s two telecommunications companies can share each other’s networks, du said this week.

The country’s second telecom operator has made value for money and price-based competition a hallmark of its offerings since its launch in early 2007. But it remains unable to offer broadband internet or landline telephone services outside of a handful of property developments in Dubai, where it owns the physical telephone network.

“It is going to take a little more time to extend our fixed line services like internet and data,” said Farid Faraidooni, du’s executive vice president for commercial operations. “We’re not going to dig the streets of Abu Dhabi or Sharjah. We are awaiting further regulations to see how we can expand into those areas without duplicating infrastructure.”

As a byproduct of 30 years as the country’s sole telecommunications company, Etisalat owns the national telephone network, based on both copper wire and new fibre-optic cables.

The two companies are working with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to create a system in which each can serve customers through the other’s network. All three parties have publicly committed to the concept, but it remains unclear when the regulations will be announced and implemented.

“The catalyst for competition on internet and broadband prices is being able to provide broadband services in the rest of the UAE,” Mr Faraidooni said. “Once that happens, once the regulations come out and are implemented, that’s when you will see a catalyst to drive prices down.”

du relies on network sharing to compete

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