du launches high definition pay-TV

The telecommunications company du announced the launch of a high definition television service for customers in parts of Dubai.

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The telecommunications company du announced the launch of a high definition television (HDTV) service Wednesday, offering new viewing options for customers living in areas of Dubai where it holds a pay-TV monopoly. Etisalat launched an HDTV service last week through its E-Vision subsidiary. Etisalat's announcement was followed by a number of regional broadcasters, including Showtime, Orbit and the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), publisher of The National, unveiling plans to make their own high-definition channels available to customers throughout the region.

The du HDTV service is part of its new television package, which also includes options such as a digital video recorder and the ability to pause and rewind television shows. The system uses software from Microsoft for its user interface. Microsoft, best known for its personal computer operating system and office software, began making applications for television set-top boxes in 2007. Its software is popular among telecoms delivering pay-TV over cable, and is in use by AT&T in the US, BT in the UK and SingTel in Singapore.

Du has a monopoly on fixed-line telecommunications, pay-TV and internet access in areas of the "new Dubai" such as Dubai Media City, Dubai Marina and the Jumeirah Beach Residence. Each area is served by a fibre-optic cable network that was built and operated by the telecommunications wing of Tecom, the Dubai-based master developer. Tecom Telecommunications was acquired by du in late 2005. Boosting revenues from services such as television and the internet is one way that du hopes to keep profits growing as mobile subscriber growth slows.

Unlike most regional operators, the company has no exposure to growth markets outside the UAE, where it has won a 30 per cent share of the mobile market largely through targeting price-sensitive customers. tgara@thenational.ae