ABU DHABI // Telephone operator Etisalat has been punished with a financial penalty by a watchdog for blocking a “short code” number that customers could use to receive information on transferring their phone numbers to a rival operator.
Etisalat customers who sent a message to 3553 were supposed to receive a response from du instructing them how to migrate their phone number between operators, but the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) found the number had been blocked by Etisalat.
It is understood that the number had been blocked since November 21. The ability to transfer your number was due to come into place in December.
Du has been running an advertising campaign informing users about the “Mobile Number Portability” scheme, which instructed them to send a text with the word “CHANGE” to 3553 to receive more information.
The TRA instructed Etisalat to lift the block on short code 3553 on November 22 and any other short codes used by du to promote its products and services.
Today, the authority issued the penalty, the amount of which has not been revealed, as the company had failed to comply with the instructions.
However, the text service has now appeared to have been put into operation, a move that du welcomed.
“Our short code 3553 was suspended by Etisalat the following day which made it impossible for interested mobile users to reach us using SMS,” the company said.
“This by no means reflects any deficiency on our side or on our service quality. We are pleased to inform UAE residents that the SMS short code has been now restored by Etisalat following the TRA’s intervention.”