Du launches commercial service in UAE
Emirate's second operator announces all-too familiar tariffs.
Du, the UAE's new entrant telco, officially launched commercial operations over its network on February 11, with the first commercial phone call taking place on February 19 between His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai, and the minister of presidential affairs, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Earlier in February, du revealed price plans and products to press in preparation for its launch. Apart from demonstrating the cost benefits of pay-per second billing, du CEO Osman Sultan's revealed tariffs did not stray too far from incumbent Etisalat's prices, with SMS prices remaining the same as its competitor's.
Du has stressed it would compete on market segmentation and services rather than prices, paying particular attention to the needs of business customers through the offer of dedicated account advisors to enterprises, amongst other things.
The telco launched with four core services. ‘Me&Mine', which allows customers to select two international and two domestic numbers, on which to receive a 10% discount during off and on peak periods, for a monthly charge of AED10 (US$2.70).
Du's ‘MyWorld' is a SIM-based web portal that allows customers to download ringtones, news reports, games and other mobile content onto their phones. The operator's mobile payment service will allow customers to register, pay bills, and add prepaid credit over the phone with their credit card.
All of du's services will be charged on a per-second basis and will be made available to both post-paid customers - at monthly rate of AED30 - and prepaid customers. Domestic calls to mobiles and landlines will be charged at 0.5 fils per second. National and international SMS will be charged at 18 fils and 60 fils respectively for a promotional period, until May 31 when rates increase to 30 fils for national SMS and 90 fils for international, falling in line with Etisalat's tariff structure.
MMS will be charged at a national rate of 45 fils per 50Kb and video calls at 1 fil per second. Du will also launch with mobile broadband, including mobile TV, though the operator did not state the rate these services will be charged at.
Post-paid enterprise customers will be charged a monthly fee of AED20; both prepaid and post-paid business customers will be charged 1 fil per KB for data services and are subject to the same voice tariffs as non-business customers.
Sultan was eager to promote the cost benefits of per-second billing for subscribers despite the fact Etisalat is soon to introduce a similar payment plan.
"This is our gift to the UAE market, we have brought per-second billing to the UAE, and it will reduce the cost of calls to customers. They (Etisalat) are bringing it now, but why did they not do it 10 years ago?" he asked.
Du also revealed its full year and 4Q04 financial results last month. The results showed a net pre-operating cost of AED 280.3 million for the quarter to December 31, 2006, bringing total net pre-operating costs for the year from December 28, 2005 to AED 608.9 million.
Customers have been able to order du SIM cards from the telco's website since February 11 and Du's 11 dedicated branded stores opened on February 25, along with 90 independent channels that distributing du products and services.