The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has confirmed Etisalat and du are "technically ready" to share each other's internet and television networks, officially ushering in a competitive era. The introduction of network sharing, for which no date has been set by the TRA or the two operators, will mean residents will finally have a choice of telecoms providers.
Etisalat has a monopoly on traditional telephones, internet service and cable TV throughout most of the country, while du services a small area of Dubai that includes newer neighbourhoods such as Dubai Marina and Media City. The National reported on Friday that talks between the TRA, Etisalat and du to open the networks had been finalised last month, and that the influx of added competition would lower prices for telecoms services in the UAE.
"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," said Mohammed al Ghanim, the director general of the TRA. "Users of fixed telecoms services across the UAE will be able to access services from both operators once these are commercially launched in the coming months."
Nasser bin Obood, the acting chief executive officer of Etisalat, applauded the TRA's announcement and said he was looking forward to competing against du. The development will be a boon to du, which has only been able to offer consumers mobile and landline services because of regulatory and technical issues. "Competition will no doubt foster growth of the telecommunications industry, act as a catalyst for the overall economic development of the country and, above all, bring better value for customers," said Osman Sultan, the chief executive of du.