Etisalat, du fail to agree network sharing deal
Dubai, July 18, 2013
The United Arab Emirates' two telecom operators, Etisalat and du, remain at loggerheads over a deal to allow them to compete on fixed line services nearly four years after negotiations began.
Du and Etisalat already offer fixed-line, broadband and television packages in the UAE, but not in the same districts, with du confined to the newer areas of Dubai.
The two companies, which are both majority-owned by government institutions, started technology trials that would allow network sharing more than two years ago and an agreement was slated to be concluded by 2011-end.
But a report from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) this week shows the companies cannot agree on the extent of so-called bitstream access, which would enable one operator to permit the other to use its fixed network, or a method to determine the fees for allowing such access.
"The two licensees are still negotiating," states the regulator's report, which was published on its website.
"Bitstream access could have a significant impact on competition."
The TRA states it will "impose a requirement to offer bitstream access products for both residential and business markets," reiterating a commitment it made in a 2010 policy document.
This earlier text also shows Etisalat and du began talks on this in September 2009.
Du rapidly won market share after ending Etisalat's domestic mobile monopoly in 2007 and claimed 48.1 percent of the UAE's mobile subscribers as of March 31.
Further liberalisation has proved fraught - mobile number portability, which would allow customers to retain their phone number when switching provider, has yet to be introduced despite the regulator previously stating this would be available by mid-2008.
Du, Etisalat and the TRA were not immediately available for comment. – Reuters