Etisalat violated telecom law with offer, says TRA

Etisalat has been reprimanded by the UAE’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA), which has instructed the operator to withdraw promotional offers relating to its 30th anniversary celebrations saying they violated telecom law.

The official body ruled that Etisalat had violated the telecom law, its license and the TRA’s price control policy by publicising a promotional offer for mobile services without the approval of the TRA.

In a statement, the TRA said that since early 2005, Etisalat had obtained approval from the TRA for price changes including promotions, a process which allowed the TRA to screen out anti-competitive pricing behaviours. However, on this occasion it had by announcing the promotion effectively violated the telecom law, its license and the TRA’s price control as it publicised a promotional offer without having sought or received approval from the TRA.

“TRA holds Etisalat’s board responsible for this deliberate disregard of the telecom law, its license and the TRA’s regulations. It has instructed Etisalat to withdraw this offer and stated that [although] Etisalat’s offer appeared to be attractive, it actually had the effect of locking customers to Etisalat before competition begins. Etisalat, with over five million subscribers, is apparently willing to spend millions to lock-in customers, which is an act of anti-competitions,” the TRA stated.

The violation could result in penalties, the statement added. “The TRA is currently assessing the situation. Any decisions regarding penalties to Etisalat for these serious violations will be determined in due course,” stated Mohammad Al Ganem, director general of the TRA.

The TRA stated that it is responsible to make sure that competition is introduced in a fair manner and also to regulate prices for telecommunication services. The statement added that as a result of these serious violations, the TRA had called for a special meeting of the Supreme Committee for the Supervision of the Telecom Sector.

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