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Tue 2 Jan 2007 03:03 PM

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Du won't launch until March

Latest timetable may lead to fines from UAE telecoms regulators.

Du may not launch services in the UAE until March next year, months after it had originally planned to, and could face being fined by regulators for the delay.

The emirates’ second telecom operator revealed the extent of the setback last week at the signing of an interconnection agreement between itself and Etisalat.

Company CEO Osman Sultan said at a press conference in Abu Dhabi that under the revised timetable du planned to release its service and subscription charges by the end of January, send out SIM cards to customers in February, and finally begin commercial operations in March.

“We are expecting this [our commercial launch] to come in the next eight to 12 weeks,” Sultan was quoted as saying.

This means the operator will almost certainly miss the launch deadline set by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of February 12. This could lead to it being penalised, with the TRA telling local press that fines are an option.

However, the regulator has declined to comment on the amount of any fine imposed.

There is also considerable uncertainty around the extent of du’s network coverage when it is finally launched.

The operator will eventually provide both fixed and mobile services across all seven emirates, but has so far refused to be drawn on whether this will be the case when it launches, or whether it will begin services in just certain areas.

Du claimed last week that over 400,000 numbers had been booked with the operator — almost 10% of UAE residents — and said it expects another 100,000 number to be reserved prior to the launch.

The interconnection agreement signed at the conference confirms interoperability between the two operators’ networks and sets out rules on how they exchange data traffic and what prices they can charge each other.

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