UAE telecoms operator Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) plans to invest up to AED3 billion (USD817 million) annually for the next five years in its domestic infrastructure, Reuters reports, citing Etisalat’s acting chief executive Nasser Bin Obood. The funds will be spent on the modernisation and expansion of its 2G and 3G networks, as well as IT systems and the rollout of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. Obood said that the company has sufficient cash reserves for these expansion plans and will not look at funding options, but will look to sign an infrastructure-sharing agreement with rival operator Du by the end of the year. He also revealed that the federal government is discussing whether to lower the 50% of net profit Etisalat pays to the state in royalty fees: ‘…the issue is being looked at and we are sure that the government and all the stakeholders will come up with a reasonable plan.’ Earlier this year the government lowered the royalty fee rival Du paid for 2010 from 50% of annual earnings to 15%.
In a separate but related story, Gulf News reports that Etisalat plans to rollout LTE services in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah by the end of the year. The introduction of 4G technology will help meet increasing demand for data connectivity in the UAE.