The UAE telecommunications sector had been historically dominated by Etisalat until du was established in 2006 to offer mobile and internet services across the country. Seven years later, the sector has a playing field that can hardly be called level.
Etisalat enjoys a monopoly on the provision of internet and cable television services in large sections of the nation, while du operates in small parcels of Dubai, including new neighbourhoods and free zones.
As The National reported yesterday, all that is about to change.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced it intends to order Etisalat to share its broadband infrastructure with du. The move follows three years of often intense and deadlocked negotiations. The aim for a shared nationwide network was introduced in a consultation document by the TRA that was put to the two providers in 2010, focusing on competition, transparency and the services provided to customers. The TRA will now prepare a "determination" document to implement its recommendations.
All this points to a welcome maturity in this growing sector: there are more than three million subscriptions to fixed-line or broadband mobile internet communications services, according to the TRA's latest figures.
Competition in the marketplace is healthy not least because it brings more value and better standards of customer service. It will also benefit the companies themselves as they increasingly compete on the global stage.