Windows Middle East Electronic Edition - 12th April 2005

If you’re an internet addict like me then you want to be able to surf the internet quickly at home, at work and everywhere in-between, and not pay extortionate prices to do it. If you live in Jordan then, I’m green with envy.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  April 11, 2005

Who’s for a move to Jordan?|~||~||~|If you’re an internet addict like me then you want to be able to surf the internet quickly at home, at work and everywhere in-between, and not pay extortionate prices to do it. If you live in Jordan, then I’m green with envy. The reason for my raving jealousy is that Jordan ISP Wanadoo has slashed its ADSL costs, and I mean really chopped them, by 35%. You lucky, lucky Jordanians! It almost makes me want to move to Jordan for that reason alone. It’s truly great news for online gamers, heavy downloaders and all those other surfers in need of serious online speed. Now, if only the UAE’s profit-rich telco giant Etisalat would share some of its wealth and do the same. The reason for Wanadoo’s price plunge? Well it could be their inherent goodliness, true, but I suspect not. I suspect instead it relates to the country’s telecoms industry and the process going on there called liberalisation (now, don’t nod off now, stay with me…). Jordan’s market, like that in Bahrain, is seeing its traditional telecoms monopoly being dissolved and outside competition let into the market. Of course, more competition usually means a price war, and what better for the consumer? In the case of Wanadoo, what we’re actually seeing is the state’s ISP trying to sign up speedy surfers before other cheap-as-chips ISPs steal them away. This process of leveling the playing field should kick off in the region’s biggest user base, Saudi Arabia, from 2008, but in the UAE it seems we’re in for one heck of a wait as nothing official has yet been announced. In the meantime, the money-magnet Etisalat is squeezing us humble netizens for every last penny (as I was writing this, the organisation’s 2004 annual report arrived at my desk, boasting operating profit of 3,297,862,000Dhs, or US$898,600,000). In fact I’d even go so far as to say Etisalat is toying with us – it certainly feels like that to me – as while it’s true that the company runs two or three price promotions each year (generally during or just after the Dubai Shopping Festival and Summer Surprise), these discounted periods aren’t officially announced or promoted beforehand, which means potentially prudent surfers and cash-strapped users can easily miss out on the chance to log on for less. What Etisalat needs to do - if it wants any of its home users to remember it fondly in the future (and so keep our custom rather than lose us to the first newcomer that appears on the market) – is to treat us right, all year long. Consider these figures: Etisalat’s lowest-priced 256K broadband service for home users, courtesy of its ‘Al Shamil’ offshoot, will set you back US$621 per year (not including any initial sign-up charges, the cost of buying a modem, or taking into its special promotional periods). Contrast that with Wanadoo’s now-standard residential ADSL charges for users in Jordan, which cost from just US$226 per year, and UAE residents (including myself) have every reason to groan. So tell me - are you paying through the nose for broadband at home? Is the price of broadband where you live stopping you even signing up? Let us know your thoughts by completing the quick poll on the left, or e-mail the WINDOWS team direct on windows@itp.com. ||**||

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