Monday, March 29, 2010

UAE - FNC telecom survey makes case for change

[business 24 7] The UAE Telecom Regulatory Authority is doing its best to break the stranglehold of monopoly, said a top official from the TRA, responding to a study that found prices of telecommunication services in the country, especially for international calls and broadband internet, are higher than those in several Arab and European nations.

The Federal National Council study is the first detailed survey of its kind in the country and it was compiled by a special committee chaired by FNC member Hamad Harith Al Midfaa.

The study findings refute the common perception that telecom charges in the UAE are low compared with several other countries, especially those of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a bloc of 30 countries.

The issue of high telecom tariff had also been raised in a recent FNC session, and when Emirates Business contacted the TRA, Director-General Mohammed Nasser Al Ghanim reiterated what he had told the council then: "The authority is working to break the monopoly, but it is not an easy thing to do."

As an example of its efforts in this direction, the senior official cited how the TRA helped telecom giant etisalat's rival company du obtain sea cables to boost its international activities and to expand its network. Du now covers 95 per cent of populated areas of the UAE, said Al Ghanim.

However, even with the increased competition, more evidently needs to be done. The survey committee found big gaps in the tariff structure, especially when it comes to international calls (residence) and broadband internet (residence and business). In Saudi Arabia, prices are 41.9 per cent lower; in Qatar 11 per cent; and in Bahrain 3 per cent.

In Germany, it is lower by 94 per cent; Canada 93 per cent; Norway 89 per cent; Japan 19 per cent; and Korea 7 per cent. On an average, prices in OECD countries are 66 per cent lower.

The FNC committee said although UAE's broadband internet services of less than 1 MB are the cheapest in the Gulf, they are high in comparison with the average OECD prices. In Turkey it is lower by 72 per cent; Sweden 65 per cent; and Denmark 63 per cent. On an average, OECD charges are 56 per cent lower.

FNC telecom survey makes case for change

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