Etisalat cable TV unit eyes overseas expansion
Dubai, June 1, 2010
The cable television unit of Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) is considering to expand abroad from next year as the domestic market becomes saturated, the subsidiary's CEO said on Tuesday.
Humaid Rashid Sahoo Al Suwaidi said E-Vision plans to enter markets that are similar to the United Arab Emirates and where Etisalat is already present. These could include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and Pakistan, he said.
"The cable TV business is different from mobile telecoms.
You need to study the markets, their lifestyle, demographics and they should resemble us," he told Reuters on the sidelines of an event.
"Discussions are going on with some partners," he said, declining to elaborate.
Etisalat is present in 18 markets abroad -- in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Some 500,000 homes in the UAE are wired via E-Vision's fibre to optic project with a target of 1 million homes by 2011, covering almost all homes in the Gulf state, he said.
Etisalat embarked on a 5 billion dirhams ($1.36 billion) plan in 2008 to develop its fibre optic project. On Tuesday, Etisalat launched its 3D TV service, the first in the region. Last year it was first to introduce high definition television (HDTV).
Even as E-Vision continues to expand, it faces challenges in the form of piracy as encryption codes are broken by users who go through the Internet, he said. Viewers also watch programmes illegally by securing signals from other platforms.
"Piracy is affecting our business and we are working with the authorities to find solutions," he said. - Reuters