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Interconnect agreement signed between du

UAE entrant extends number booking campaign to January 10

Du, the UAE’s second telco du announced the formal signing of a network interconnection agreement with competitor Etisalat during December. The agreement, confirms that the two networks can exchange calls and obtain mutual telecoms services.

The deal followed a year of discussion between both operators and necessitated collaborations on technical, operational, commercial, legal and regulatory issues. Some market commentators have suggested the negotiations were hard, with the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority having to threaten intervention should the two parties be unable to come to an agreement between themselves.

“The interconnection agreement marks an important milestone for the UAE’s telecom industry. It is a necessary pre-condition for the launch of our mobile services.

In addition, one of the most significant outcomes of this agreement is that it will allow du to offer fixed line calling services across the UAE in a phased manner during 2007,” Osman Sultan, du CEO commented.

No further details were given concerning when du will launch commercial operations. The operator had originally planned to commence mobile services in the UAE before the end of 2007, though this timeline has continued to slide.

In keeping with the theme of general delays plaguing du, the operator also announced an extension to its number booking service until January 10.

The campaign was originally expected to end December 14.

The ‘055 My Number’ registration service was intended as a substitute for mobile number portability, and allows customers to keep their current Etisalat number with the 050 prefix changed to 055.

Du claims the extension is in response to the high demand for its booking service.

Over 300,000 customers have already registered their number through du’s website despite the new entrant’s failure to declare when it will begin mobile operations and the price schemes and services it will launch with. CEO Sultan had said that these details would be disclosed once the number campaign ended, whereby customers would then be asked to confirm their booking at a cost of AED100 (US$27). This is now expected early 2007.