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TV not part of UAE telco sharing deal

Dubai, September 20, 2011

An infrastructure sharing agreement allowing rival UAE telecoms operators to compete in home services will not include television, du's chief executive said on Tuesday.

Both du and Etisalat already offer fixed-line, broadband and television services in the UAE, but not in the same districts and an agreement between the pair to allow open competition has been years in the making.

Du CEO Osman Sultan said he expected this would be completed by the end of 2011, but warned it would include only broadband and voice. IPTV - television via the same fibre optic cables that provide fixed broadband - would not be part of the initial agreement because the two operators' networks are not yet compatible.

"TV will come at a later stage," said Sultan, refusing to predict when IPTV would be included in infrastructure sharing.     

He admitted this would make it harder to persuade customers to switch providers. "Probably we don't want to see this situation lasting long -- TV is very important," Sultan told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

Analysts question whether customers will want separate broadband and TV providers. "It will be an obstacle -- having to pay two bills instead of one may pose a hassle for consumers and deter them," said Shrouk Diab, telecoms analyst at Rasmala in Cairo.

Du now claims a 44 percent share of the UAE's mobile subscribers, rapidly winning customers since ending Etisalat's domestic monopoly in 2007, but UAE voice revenues are stagnating as mobile subscriber growth also ebbs.

This means broadband and data services, both fixed and mobile, will become increasingly important battlegrounds as operators prioritise boosting revenues-per-user over raw market share and combined services is seen as a way to retain and win customers. - Reuters

Tags: UAE | du | Etisalat | IPTV |

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