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Du to beat launch deadline by a day

The UAE's second telco, du, will launch in time to meet its regulatory deadline, but many customers will have to wait several weeks before they can use its services.

From February 11, just one day before the launch deadline imposed by the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), customers will be able to pay for their pre-booked numbers online, du announced at a conference this week.

However, they will then have to wait for their SIM cards to be delivered, a process which du CEO Osman Sultan warned could take "a few weeks".

Half a million people have pre-booked a number for the operator's mobile services, according to du. These customers will receive a special thank you package from du, which includes free connection if they buy the plan before April 15.

The operator said customers would also be able to pick up SIM cards from du's distribution channels, including nine du stores, from February 25.

The deadline for the start of du's commercial operations was imposed by the TRA after the original launch date, scheduled for the end of 2006, was delayed because of technical problems.

Sultan said key areas it would be competing with incumbent operator Etisalat on were its price-per-second deal and customer service. "We want to have an integrated approach to the needs of customers - this is the major innovation du has brought to the market," he said.

Du claimed it would initially provide coverage across 85% of the UAE, as well as offering 171 international roaming destinations.