TECOM to be confirmed as second operator at GITEX

A GSM/UMTS network is reported to be currently being trialled by TECOM, with infrastructure that has been supplied by Chinese vendor ZTE.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  September 22, 2005

|~||~||~|Sources close to the Dubai Internet City’s telecoms arm TECOM, which provides communications services to the corporates in Dubai’s free zones, have said the company will be confirmed as the strategic investor behind the second all-licence operator in the UAE, at the end of September. A source stated that the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) would make a formal announcement at the forthcoming GITEX event that is taking place in Dubai between September 25-29. A GSM/UMTS network is reported to be currently being trialled by TECOM, with infrastructure that has been supplied by Chinese vendor ZTE. However, it is said that this does not guarantee ZTE will definitely be awarded a part of the commercial network contract given that TECOM is said to be in communications with a number of vendors. In May the TRA announced the creation of the second all-service operator in the UAE and announced that the government through a number of pension and investment funds would hold 40% of the operator. Other than saying that local investors would also hold the remaining 60%, up until now the TRA has been unwilling to comment on the identity of the strategic investor. It is not clear at this point whether TECOM will assume control of the entire 60% stake that remains or whether it will take a proportion of the holding, with other equity investors also participating. A tentative launch date of April 2006 has been set for the new operation, the source close to TECOM says, and tenders have already been issued. However, it has also been said that a number of requests for information (RFIs) and requests for proposals (RFPs) have been issued by TECOM in the past, with many of them failing to develop into commercial tenders. ||**|||~|Omran200.2.jpg|~|Etisalat CEO Mohammed Omran, believes competition in the UAE will be services-driven. |~|Etisalat CEO Mohammed Omran says that his company is ready for the entry of competition, and believes the fiercest competitive battle will be fought in the services arena rather than in the pricing space. “I think the main element of competition will not be the pricing,” Omran told CommsMEA. “Pricing is going to be adjusted from time to time but this is not the important thing. It is services that are important. The quality of services and the variety. That is the area that will see real competition in the market.” Should services become the main area of competition as Omran predicts, then TECOM is preparing its infrastructure well in order to offer leading edge services and applications. As reported by CommsMEA in August, TECOM arm has recruited contractors to build a multi-million dollar facility in Jebel Ali that will link to the Falcon system, a high-speed submarine network FLAG plans to launch later this year. The landing station will be used to route phone calls and internet traffic internationally without utilising Etisalat’s infrastructure. In September DIC also announced the selection of PacketFront, the Stockholm-based provider of open access fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology to build the free trade zone’s triple play FTTH environment. PacketFront's technology will provide DIC's customers with an extensive selection of triple play services, including TV, telephony and high-speed internet. However, TECOM’s move to offer communications services commercially outside of the free zones will be hampered by the departure of Robin Saphra, who was on contract to help lead TECOM’s move towards becoming the UAE’s second all-service operator. Saphra tendered his resignation during the course of September and is assuming a senior role at an operator based in Europe. He is set to depart Dubai before the end of September. ||**||

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