x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

A smart business move by du

We are approaching the end of the beginning of the telecommunications market's liberalisation.

The liberalisation of the telecommunications market began with the launch of du at the start of 2007. We are approaching the end of that beginning. Once any customer anywhere in the country has a choice between service providers, true competition begins. We are not there yet. A resident of Dubai Marina has no choice in the cable TV market, and a business on the Abu Dhabi Corniche cannot choose its internet provider.

Both players in the current duopoly have taken great advantage of this lack of choice, charging some of the highest fees in the world for broadband internet access. Residents in some Dubai neighbourhoods monopolised by du are forbidden to install their own satellite dish and must instead pay a monthly fee for access to free-to-air television channels. But it is du that must be commended for its decision to drastically cut the price of its internet services, despite the absence of a competitive force pushing the operator to do so. The company has made the enlightened decision to offer a better price because that is what its customers want, not what the market compels it to do. This move will be rewarded in the long run.

With national competition in all telecommunications markets simply a matter of time, du and Etisalat will soon face the judgement of their customers, many of whom have been frustrated by high prices and poor service. It is never too late to start addressing these frustrations, as du showed with yesterday's announcement. tgara@thenational.ae