Network sharing expected by mid-year

27 Mar 2012

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has said it is working on the establishment of a fair wholesale price for operators ahead of the commercial launch of network sharing between the United Arab Emirates’ two service providers, Etisalat and Du, which is expected to take place by mid-2012, Zawya Dow Jones Newswires reports. ‘Both Etisalat and Du are technically and operationally ready,’ Fintan Healy, executive director of regulatory affairs, told reporters on the sidelines of the Broadband MEA 2012 Conference in Dubai. ‘The other thing we have to work on is the commercial issue. We don’t regulate retail prices; we regulate wholesale prices so one of the things that we are working on right now is what is a fair wholesale price,’ he added. Healy said that at the moment, the issue of finding a fair wholesale price for IPTV services is one of the TRA’s ‘biggest problems’. The regulator is also still considering whether to launch a double-play internet and voice offering, with TV services to follow at a later date, or whether to introduce all three services in one phase, he added.

The introduction of bitstream access will break the monopolies held by Etisalat and Du within their respective areas, giving business and residential customers the choice of operator for their fixed line voice and broadband services for the first time, states TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. At present Du’s internet and pay-TV services only cover newly developed areas of Dubai, including Dubai Marina and Media City; while Etisalat is barred from operating in these areas, it holds a monopoly on providing fixed services in the rest of the country. A soft-launch of bitstream access was launched by the two companies in July 2011, with a view to making the service available across the UAE by the end of the year. However, at that date the TRA said in a statement that it had delayed the full commercial implementation of fixed network sharing ‘until the completion of the technical readiness.’