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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

Ajman football fans hit by World Cup blackout due to lack of cable coverage 

Fans in parts of emirate left on the sidelines as fibre optic cable service is unavailable

Football fans in Ajman are missing out on some of the World Cup drama in Russia after complaints about a lack of coverage. Reuters
Football fans in Ajman are missing out on some of the World Cup drama in Russia after complaints about a lack of coverage. Reuters

Thousands of frustrated football fans in Ajman are facing World Cup woe after being cut off from the action.

Residents missing out have hit out at the lack of coverage - a result of not having the fibre optic cable networks necessary for the packages broadcasting the tournament.

Subscribers to telecommunication companies du and Etisalat in Al Muwaihat and Al Rawda areas are among those in the emirate unable to get the football coverage.

Etisalat broadcasts the tournament through its eLife package, while du offers the games as part of du Home, both of which require a fibre optic cable that is not currently available in parts of the emirate.

Etisalat and du instead provide a fixed LTE service, which does not have the necessary bandwidth to show live football.

Mahmoud Said, 39, from Al Muwaihat 3, said he has the Fixed LTE service but did not know he wouldn't be able to subscribe for the World Cup until after he called his provider, Etisalat.

“I was first informed of the package and just towards the end of the call, the customer service agent asked me for my service account number. When I gave it to him, he said he was sorry that he can't help me as the service is not available where I live,” said Mr Said.

He visited the provider’s office in Ajman, where he was told the same thing.

“They told me [that] since there is no fibre cable network in the area, I can't buy the package. I was frustrated, I have been living in the same area for nine years now, and since my second year of living here, Etisalat had been saying they will install [the] fibre optic cable in my neighbourhood soon. It’s been over six years now and they still haven't installed it,” he said.

This year's World Cup is of particular interest to people in the UAE as a record four Arab teams have qualified — Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, spearheaded by Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

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Egyptian Adam Khaled, 18, is desperate to see Salah and the rest of the team take on the world, but has also fallen foul of the same problem in Al Rawda.

He said it was inconvenient to go to a cafe each time to watch a game.

Another fan said the World Cup blackout could encourage viewers to seek out illegal streaming websites to watch games.

“I don't know what to say. This is just unacceptable. They are leaving us with no option but to go to illegal websites,” said one unhappy customer.

Rashid Dafoos, 15, was keen to watch defending champions Germany take on Mexico, a game that proved one of the highlights of the event so far as the Central American side clinched a surprise win.

The Emirati fan said: "I just can't understand the problem here; if you have it installed elsewhere, how hard is it to install it in our area?”

These customers — according to a du employee — were among many who had visited the office in the past few days to make a complaint.

The National visited the Etisalat office in Ajman, where a customer care supervisor said the provider is only offering the World Cup as part of its eLife package.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is all we have at the moment,” they said.

Both companies, du and Etisalat, were contacted for comment.