Windows Middle East electronic edition 11th October 2005

As you probably know by now, the UAE’s national telco Etisalat is due to face serious competition next year when a second country operator opens for business. However, this forthcoming change is already proving to have positive ramifications for consumers. At long last, prices are plunging…

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By  Matthew Wade Published  October 10, 2005

The times they are a changing|~||~||~|The recent Gitex exhibition in Dubai may have been a non-starter in terms of the ‘big announcement’ that the assembled press were expecting – namely more details on the forthcoming second telco – but the fact that this competitor is even on the horizon has already meant some serious consumer wooing by Etisalat. From a PC user’s point of view, the key changes have been those made by Etisalat’s internet arm, eCompany. First to hit, and still the best so far, was that eCompany chopped its broadband internet charges, and seriously too – by up to 47%. About time, you might think, but still… let’s not look this particular cyber gift horse in the mouth. To give a personal example, as someone who has just moved into an Emaar property, I now find myself in the highly surreal position of having to pay more for cable broadband (via Dubai Internet City (DIC) Telecom’s cable service, the only one available from Emaar) than I would otherwise have to shell out for the same speed ADSL connection from eCompany. Like I said, surreal. Web site owners are eCompany’s even newer goodwill target, with the firm just having slashed the prices of its web hosting packages too. What it’s done is to ramp up the capacities of its various packages at no extra charge – basically more megabytes for the same number of dirhams, similar in fact to how it previously upgraded users’ internet connection speeds before bringing down the prices of each package. At the value end of eCompany’s web hosting range for example, its ‘MyWeb’ package – costing 25 AED per month – has been upgraded from 10MB to 40MB. The next package up, MySite, has been increased from 50MB to 150MB, while the Starter package now hits 250MB (from 100MB). Lest we become complacent about such deals then, let’s put aside any Western experiences of cheap-as-chips web offerings and step back just a year in time here in the UAE. Fair enough, we all thought that as and when Etisalat’s future competition appeared it would ease the strain on our wallets, but before the second operator has even appeared? Really? We’re doing well right now, and it should only get better. Enjoy. ||**||

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