The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) confirmed that both the telecom operators in the country, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du), are technically ready to open their fixed-line networks for competition.

Both operators will be able to currently provide all fixed-line services, telephone and internet services, and in the near future television services, everywhere in the UAE. This comes in line with the strategies followed by the TRA towards enabling competition in the telecom market.

H.E. Mohamad Al Ghanim, Director General of the TRA said: “The step from ‘Etisalat’ and ‘du’ to provide each other with access to their fixed telecommunications infrastructure will allow customers to select service provider in every household and business across the entire nation. 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. Users of fixed telecommunications services across the UAE will be able to access services from both operators once these are commercially launched in the coming months.”

Etisalat and du have been negotiating an agreement under the supervision and guidance of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to allow them to provide voice, internet, data and TV services across each other’s copper and fiber networks. The TRA has been working closely with both operators to ensure that all technical, operational and commercial aspects are resolved in a rapid timeframe of only nine months.

Nasser bin Obood, Acting Chief Executive Officer at Etisalat, said: “Etisalat has been committed to implement the decisions and directives of the TRA with regard to market liberalization. We have shown full cooperation throughout the process. We applaud the leadership and vision of the UAE Government which helped Etisalat to undertake a unique and efficient system for connecting the nation. The technology being used to connect our customers is the most advanced in the world and this is the first time it is being deployed in the Middle East region. We are looking forward to competing for new customers within the Dubai free zones and new residential areas and are confident that the heightened customer experience that we are able to offer, in addition to our high value products and services, will be extremely effective in growing our market share in fixed line services. Etisalat is in the process of completing its fiber-optic network which today covers most UAE households outside of ‘New Dubai’. It has invested more than Dh 5bn in this project which is the largest fiber-optic deployment in the world today.”

The Chief Executive Officer of du, Mr. Osman Sultan said: “This is a major step in the liberalization of the UAE’s telecommunications sector that started in 2007 with the introduction of the second mobile operator in the country. With this current development, all consumers in the country will have an opportunity to choose their preferred operator for internet, voice and TV services. Competition will no doubt foster growth of the telecommunications industry, act as a catalyst for the overall economic development of the country and above all, bring better value for customers.”

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