Chinese vendor Huawei has been selected by UAE incumbent Etisalat for the construction of its nationwide UMTS/HDSPA 3.5G network. Etisalat has provided 3G services since December 2003 and, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, at the end of June 2006 had an estimated 150,000 subscribers. The new network will include more than a thousand base stations and will be based on internet protocol (IP) transmission, the first such HDSPA network in the Middle East and North Africa.
Meanwhile Etisalat has said that it will lose 20-30% of its domestic market share in the three years following the launch of services from second mobile operator Du. The incumbent plans to cut costs and tariffs in response to the competition, but does not at the moment envisage major redundancies amongst its 10,000 staff. Du is expected to start operating before the end of 2006.