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Thu 11 Jan 2007 04:00 AM

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Du aims for February launch

Sultan also announced that a total of 750,000 potential customers had registered their number through du’s ‘055 My Number’ booking campaign.

Du CEO Osman Sultan told press yesterday that the UAE’s second cellco would commence mobile operation in the second half of February 2007, with price tariffs and a precise launch date to be announced some time in first half of the month.

The news comes days after Sultan indicated commercial operations could be pushed back as far as March. The UAE’s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority had mandated du enter the market by February 12.

Sultan also announced that a total of 750,000 potential customers had registered their number through du’s ‘055 My Number’ booking campaign.

“With du moving closer towards its fulfillment phases, it will launch its mobile services across the UAE in February. Our decision to introduce the booking campaign reflects the impact of our customers on du’s strategy; we listen to their needs and act accordingly. Judging by the overwhelming response, we are confident du has taken the right approach,” said Sultan.

According to a report released yesterday by investment bank EFG Hermes, du is forecast to break even at EBITA level by 2009, with projected earnings of AED575 million (US$153 million) by 2010. It is also expected to have a mobile and fixed line market share of 33% and 15% respectively by that time.

EFG Hermes also stated that du’s government-backed entry into the UAE’s monopolised telecoms market represents the UAE’s commitment to WTO deregulation requirements, while simultaneously protecting the current incumbent from potentially aggressive tactics of an international entrant.

"Competition by du is viewed largely as being local and not brought by an international player, such as Vodafone, whose scale, marketing capabilities and brand recognition especially in an expatriate environment like the UAE, could have constituted a greater threat for etisalat," read the report.

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