x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Nationwide roll-out of du's services to ring the changes

Rollout of du services across the UAE will prompt lower broadband charges and even better customer service, analysts say.

The roll-out of du services across the UAE is forecast to prompt cheaper broadband prices, more "bundled" telecommunications packages and better customer service, analysts say.

Etisalat currently has the monopoly on fixed-line telecoms, with du restricted to offering subscriptions in just a few areas. Fixed-line services include primary landline subscriptions, broadband and internet protocol television (IPTV) connections.

However, a recent change in UAE telecoms regulations means Etisalat and du will soon be able to provide fixed-line services throughout the UAE, which is expected to spark greater competition and lower prices among the operators.

"I think you will see prices coming down for broadband," said Irfan Ellam, a telecoms analyst with Al Mal Capital.

"Fixed-line rates could potentially come down too."

Mr Ellam said the two operators would soon be competing across four areas: mobile; fixed-line; IPTV; and broadband.

They are expected to offer more "bundled" packages featuring three or four of the different services, he said. "Each individual component, they'll be competing on. They'll be trying to market triple or quad-play packages."

The twofour54 media zone was set to become the first area in Abu Dhabi where it will be possible to choose between the two providers, it was announced this week.

Osman Sultan, the chief executive of du, said the deal was "a significant moment for us in the run-up to the nationwide launch of our fixed services".

No date has been announced for the nationwide roll-out, but analysts said such a move would be good for consumers.

Simon Simonian, a telecoms analyst at Shuaa Capital, said the launch of du's fixed-line services "will be positive" for the consumer.

"The consumer will have choice. Both companies will have to be more creative in differentiating their product offerings," he said. "Whether on the customer experience or customer service, each company will have to raise the bar."