x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Game on for Etisalat fibre-optic TV

The Telecoms operator switches on its fibre-optic television service just in time for viewers to watch the FIFA World Cup.

The country's biggest telecommunications operator is offering the World Cup package, which starts in South Africa on June 11.
The country's biggest telecommunications operator is offering the World Cup package, which starts in South Africa on June 11.

Etisalat has switched on its fibre-optic television service just in time for viewers to watch the FIFA World Cup. The UAE's largest telecommunications operator has included its high-definition (HD) television service in its eLife package, an offering that takes advantage of Etisalat's rollout of its Dh5 billion (US$1.36bn) fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network.

The FTTH network offers improved access to online services and applications, and is expected to be completed by next year. Irfan Ellam, a telecoms analyst with Al Mal Capital, said the addition of fibre-optic television to the eLife service was a compelling offer designed to secure the operator's leadership in the domestic market. "It looks like they're aggressively pushing their mobile broadband and eLife at the moment," Mr Ellam said. "The combination of the two may make their upcoming quarter very good.

"Overall, they're going to need to compete. They're preparing for competition when du rolls out their network in the UAE in the second half of the year." Mr Ellam said the inclusion of a mobile service to a customers' telecoms subscriptions was another way that Etisalat could capitalise on its eLife package. The operator will bundle its TV service with its internet and landline services at promotional prices that range between Dh299 and Dh539 a month, depending on various download broadband speeds. Etisalat said the eLife packages would be offered in Arabic, English and subcontinental languages, and its basic and premium offerings will would include the TV service at current market rates.

A number of existing HD channels on Etisalat's eVision television service will also be available with the eLife package including Al Jazeera Sports, OSN Movies, the Food Network and Luxe TV. Most homes in Abu Dhabi, about 200,000 households, are connected to Etisalat's FTTH network, with the rest to be completed by the end of the year, an Etisalat spokesman said. In the UAE more than 60 per cent, or 670,000 households, are also connected to the fibre-optic service.

"By introducing TV on our fibre-to-the-home network, we launch today the second phase of eLife that opens doors for unmatched applications and adds significant value to our customers' lifestyles," said Khalifa al Shamsi, the senior vice president of marketing at Etisalat. "We are progressing everyday by adding more residents across UAE on our fibre network in order to meet the deadline for connecting all of UAE by 2011."

Etisalat's rival, du said it was working with its partners to broadcast the competition to its subscribers and that further details would be released soon. Al Jazeera won the regional rights to air the World Cup, which begins on June 11. dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae