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Domestic competition healthy; foreigners not required

2 Oct 2007

The United Arab Emirates government has ruled out opening up the telecoms sector to foreign players in the near future and expects tariffs to become competitive because incumbent Etisalat no longer has monopoly on telephony and internet services. ‘So far we have not really looked at it, mainly because we feel the existing number of telecom companies is enough at present,’ said Minister of Government Sector Development Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, when asked by local news service Gulf News about the government’s plan to allow foreign telecoms firms into the local market. ‘In the future, this is something that we will leave to the needs and requirements of the market,’ he added. ‘We do not want to affect the telecoms sector in any way that could be negative in terms of the quality of service by creating more competition.’

While the launch of services by the UAE’s second national operator (SNO) Du in February has resulted in more choice for customers, tariffs have not come down as a result of the competition. Both Etisalat and Du have refrained from competing on price. ‘You will see it eventually,’ said Al Mansouri. ‘As [Du] gains strength…we will see more competition between the two, [with the] expectation that the rates will be different than what we see now.’

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