x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Du launches one of costliest super-fast internet packages in the world

Du has launched the fastest domestic internet connection in the UAE - 100 mbps - with a price tag that beats many around the world.

Most internet users have no choice of fixed broadband provider, with most homes supplied exclusively by either Etisalat or du, but not both. Pawan Singh / The National
Most internet users have no choice of fixed broadband provider, with most homes supplied exclusively by either Etisalat or du, but not both. Pawan Singh / The National

Du has launched the fastest domestic internet connection in the country, with a price tag to match.

The new 100 megabits per second (mbps) connection is fast enough to download a music album in about six seconds, or a movie in about one-and-a-half minutes.

However, the monthly fee for the service starts at Dh999 (US$272) - more than double the cost of a 24 mbps connection, the next fastest on offer from the company - and is only available in Dubai.

"Customers … can now avail speeds that are available in only a few other countries," said Farid Faraidooni, the chief commercial officer at du.

The 100 mbps connection is the maximum claimed capacity, with the actual speed available to users likely to be lower.

A survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which offers a snapshot of the costliest highspeed packages across the world puts Chile's VTR operator in top spot with $196.96 for 120 mbps - the price based on a scale called PPP (purchasing power parity) which calculates how much money is needed to purchase the same goods and services any two countries.

On face-value dollar price tag (not using PPP) du's package still weighs in costlier than the OECD's top ranked $177.96 package for 100 mbps from Israel's Hot/018 provider.

Commentators said the high cost meant the service was likely to remain a niche offering. No Middle East countries are included in the OECD report.

"This is definitely not going to be a mass-market product," said Thomas Kuruvilla, the managing director of the consultancy Arthur D Little Middle East.

"I don't think there are a lot of customers that will need this type of bandwidth. It will be suitable for niche customers [looking to] watch movies online and playing games."

The new offering from du is not the fastest in the region - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) offers a high-speed internet package with a claimed speed of 200 mbps for 799 Saudi riyals (Dh783) a month.

"STC is giving double the capacity at a lower price," Mr Kuruvilla said.

Super-fast internet connections are much cheaper in markets outside the Middle East.

For example, Virgin Media in the UK is offering stand-alone 100 mbps broadband for £34.75 (Dh200) per month, with the first three months at half price.

"In general, the cost of telecoms services in the UAE is significantly higher than in Europe," Mr Kuruvilla said.

The 100 mbps service is available to most of du's existing broadband subscribers.

"A very few customers are not eligible for this service because of infrastructure restrictions inside their building," the operator said.

Etisalat, du's rival, currently offers a top speed of 30 mbps for home broadband connections, which costs Dh499 per month with a landline connection.

Etisalat is expected to launch faster domestic broadband services in the future, although it would not officially confirm this when contacted.

Both Etisalat and du have launched 4G mobile-internet services, which offer claimed speeds of up to 100 mbps via a wireless USB modem.

The cost of the Etisalat services range from Dh99 a month with a 1 gigabyte limit to Dh499 a month with a 20G limit, while du charges Dh555 a month with a 25G limit.

Jawad Abbassi, the founder and general manager of the consultancy Arab Advisors Group, said the launch of faster broadband speeds was in line with global trends.

"Once you have such higher speeds, you can also put on more services such as video-on-demand," he said.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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