The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has confirmed that the nation’s two telecoms operators, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Du, are technically ready to open their fixed line networks for competition. Over the past nine months, the pair have been negotiating an agreement under the supervision and guidance of the TRA to allow them to provide voice, internet, data and eventually TV services across each other’s copper and fibre networks, giving both operators access to the whole of the UAE for the first time. In the past, Du has not been permitted to access Etisalat’s nationwide network, but is allowed to provide broadband services to the free economic zones of Dubai and new residential areas, where Etisalat is barred from operating.
‘The step from Etisalat and Du to provide each other with access to their fixed telecommunications infrastructure will allow customers to select a service provider in every household and business across the entire nation,’ noted Mohamad Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, adding: ‘The parties have now concluded the negotiations on complex technical and operational details of the network sharing arrangements and are currently in the process of undertaking comprehensive testing of the networks and systems interfaces.’ Al Ghanim stated that the population will be able to access fixed services from both operators in the coming months. It is hoped that sharing infrastructure will help encourage competition, improve service quality and lower the country’s fixed telephony and broadband tariffs, which are said to be amongst the highest in the region.