Etisalat & du to share and share alike

10 Sep 2007

New initiatives to share infrastructure for the provision TV and internet services will be developed which will allow for more balanced competition, say the heads of incumbent Etisalat, second national operator du, and regulator the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). ‘With regard to duplicating the infrastructure where we allow du to get into the rest of the Emirates and Etisalat to get into the free zones, we are still working it out, because that is going to be a waste of money for both operators and for the country,’ said Mohammed Al Ghanim, the director general of the TRA. Both companies retain monopolies for TV and internet services in certain areas of the UAE. Du said that although it has signed an interconnection agreement with Etisalat, it is very difficult to access over the 90% of the market because the infrastructure is owned by Etisalat, while the incumbent says it is unable to provide services in the UAE’s free economic zones, which are operated by du’s major shareholder, Tecom Investments. ‘The first issue is the unbundling of the Etisalat local loop, which basically means reprogramming the entire Etisalat nationwide network,’ Al Ghanim said. Etisalat said it would work to provide better access to its infrastructure to du. ‘If there is any new law or a new directive under the TRA, whether it is to unblock the local loop or to share the infrastructure, we will be obliged to provide those services,’ said the telco’s CEO Ahmed Abdulkarim Julfar. Du said it had no objection to allowing Etisalat into the free zones like Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City. ‘We will not make any obstacle for Etisalat to come and provide services," said Osman Sultan, du’s CEO, adding that there was already an interconnection agreement between the two in place for this.