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57% eye change in UAE mobile phone operator

Survey reveals customer loyalty gap as regulator mulls more competition

57% eye change in UAE mobile phone operator
More than half of all UAE mobile users would considering switching numbers once number portability is introduced.

Fifty-seven percent of mobile users in the UAE would consider switching their operator if they were allowed, according to the results of a new survey published on Wednesday.

The YouGov Siraj lifestyle poll, which polled 984 UAE residents last month, also revealed that 68% of respondents said that Etisalat was their sole mobile service provider, as opposed to just 6% who chose Du.

The remaining 26% said they used both. When asked to indicate which they consider to be their main service provider (the service provider whose services they use most of the time), Etisalat's figure bumped up 11 points to 79%, the survey said.

When respondents were asked if in the future they would consider switching from their current mobile phone service provider 57% indicated they would probably or definitely do so.

In fact, 22% indicated that they would "definitely" consider the change.

Amir Bozorgzadeh, business development associate at YouGov Siraj, said: "This is certainly a clear signal that albeit assumptions that Etisalat maintains a strong, monopoly-like, position in the market, there is apt room for Du to aggressively take market share should its marketing mix continue to exploit the current gap in consumer loyalty."

He added: "Etisalat, for its part, will have to stand steady on its toes and summon up innovative approaches to bolster its current position at the top of the hill."

Mobile phone customers in the UAE are expected to be given the ability to migrate between Etisalat and Du networks soon.

Last month, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said it was set to launch mobile phone number portability in the UAE in November.

The move will allow customers to migrate to any network operator using their existing number and will help boost competition between the country's two operators, bringing price and service benefits to consumers, the TRA said.

Also speaking last month, Du CEO Osman Sultan said internet customers in the UAE should be able to choose their provider in 2010.

He described opening up competition on fixed internet access as "the next big thing" but was reluctant to put an exact date on when it might happen.

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