x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Emirates telecoms choice is put back

The ability to choose between Etisalat and du for home telecommunications services has been delayed again, the TRA says.

The ability to choose between Etisalat and du for home telecommunications services has been delayed again.

The two operators are restricted to selling broadband, television and fixed-line telephone connections within specific areas of the UAE.

They were due to be allowed to compete freely on these services starting from April 30, in a move tipped to prompt lower prices.

But the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said the commercial launch of the fixed-line sharing initiative was unlikely to take place by the end of next month.

Fintan Healy, the executive director of regulatory affairs at the TRA, said the launch was likely to be delayed by three months.

The initiative may not launch until the third quarter of the year, he added.

The April 30 deadline was set at the end of last year, after several previous delays.

While the technology is almost ready for the introduction of the initiative, Mr Healy said the commercial terms were not yet finalised.

"Both Etisalat and du are more or less technically and operationally ready. We are in the stage of a controlled trial," he said.

"There are something like 700 real users using the service, so we know it works. One of the things we still have to work on is the commercial issue.

"The TRA is working on that right now. The commercial terms include the rates the two operators must pay for the right to use the other's network.

"We're looking for a fair, reciprocal price. Unless we've got commercial terms sorted out, we can't launch a commercial service," said Mr Healy.

Matthew Willsher, the chief marketing officer at Etisalat, said the operator would be led by the TRA on the introduction of fixed-line sharing.

He said it was too early to say how greater competition in the market would affect Etisalat.

"It's impossible to predict … how many customers are going to take up particular offers," he said.

bflanagan@thenational.ae