Etisalat cuts cost of broadband
UAE operator offers temporary 40% reduction as it prepares for nationwide roll out of fibre to the home by 2011
Etisalat announced yesterday that it has temporarily cut the price of its internet packages by as much as 40%, as it sets about promoting its fibre optic network, which the UAE incumbent says will cover the entire country by 2011.
So far, some 60% of the country's homes are connected to Etisalat's fibre to the home (FTTH) network, with every home in the city of Abu Dhabi to be connected inside the next two weeks, according to Khalifa Hassan Al Shamsi, Etisalat's senior vice president for marketing.
At present the top download speed offered by Etisalat is 30Mbps, but this will be increased to 100Mbps next year. A monthly subscription to Etisalat's 30Mbps package, which will normally cost AED499, has been reduced to AED364 until 15th January. 8Mbps has been temporarily reduced to AED204, down from its usual price of AED299.
Al Shamsi says the AED5 billion cost of connecting every home in the UAE to Etisalat's fibre optic network will be recouped in a variety of ways.
"Enhancing the penetration of broadband, which will automatically bring additional revenue, will be the first," Al Shamsi said. "And increasing the availability of Etisalat's TV services, from limited pockets to the whole nation, will also be a boost.
"With the fibre capability come higher speeds, so Etisalat will be able to sell higher speed packages which will enhance revenue. And Etisalat will have the capability to launch services such as video on demand and high definition television and advances in multiscreen technology. Advertising revenue will be the backup - the cream on the cake," he added.
Etisalat is offering a combination of broadband internet and landline services under the ‘eLife' banner, with both services billed as one. In 2010 high definition television and video on demand services will be added to the brand, when more homes will have been connected to the fibre optic network.
Rolling out a nationwide FTTH network has not been easy for Etisalat, according to chief marketing officer Essa Al Haddad. He said: "While many customers are willing to open the door, many are not. Sometimes, we had to visit the same customer 11 times to be able to deploy the fibre to the home. "
And he said that running two networks- one fibre and one DSL - has also been a challenge.
"Some [customers] will say, ‘We are already users of your online services today and your internet is slow', and some [customers] make a very valid statement, but as we roll out fibre to the home there is a challenge on running two separate networks at the same time. This challenge will be with us for a few months."