UAE users to get broadband choice by year-end
Network sharing service will mean choice of operators for fixed line services
Business and residential customers will be able to choose between du and Etisalat for their fixed line and broadband services before the end of the year, the UAE regulator has promised.
The Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA) said on Tuesday that a soft launch of its network-sharing service was launched last week to "a select group of customers by invitation only".
Depending on its success, the TRA said it planned to launch the service in December this year.
Both du and Etisalat already offer fixed-line and broadband services in the UAE, but not in the same districts.
Older areas are typically the preserve of former monopoly Etisalat while du, which launched in 2007, is often the sole provider in newer developments, but customers will soon be able to choose between the two.
"Etisalat and du compete strongly in mobile services and we can all see the benefits that competition in mobile services has brought to the UAE," TRA director general Mohamed Al Ghanim said, in a statement.
"We will soon enter a phase of strong competition in fixed services and we expect similar benefits to flow as a result. We hope that this final stage of testing and implementation is successful so that we can see a commercial launch before the end of the year."
The TRA said that the soft launch would focus on the provision of high speed internet, business VPN, and fixed-line services, while Etisalat and du will include IPTV services at a later date.
Network sharing in the UAE has long been promised. Etisalat and du completed talks on the issue in July last year, with the TRA indicating that their networks were "technically ready" to begin the service.
The two firms began internal nationwide testing in the UAE - a country with 1.4m telecoms consumers - in January this year.