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Sun 26 Jul 2009 11:24 AM

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Telecom rivals battle for BlackBerry customers amid spyware scandal

Etisalat and du launch special offers within days of each other.

Telecom rivals battle for BlackBerry customers amid spyware scandal
BLACKBERRY BATTLE: Rival telecom firms Etisalat and du are vying for customers. (Getty Images)

Both Etisalat and du have launched special offers within days of each other as the battle for customers intensifies in the wake of the controversy surrounding alleged spyware software Etisalat issued to its BlackBerry subscribers.

More than half of Etisalat’s BlackBerry customers are planning to ditch the UAE telecoms provider following the spyware scandal, according to an online poll conducted by Arabian Business last week.

Etisalat is facing fierce criticism after allegations it deliberately infected BlackBerry customers’ handsets with surveillance software to check on peoples’ emails and texts.

On Saturday, rival telecoms operator du launched a credit back offer of AED904 ($246) for new or existing customers of its BlackBerry service.

A day later on Sunday, Etisalat announced a special promotion, giving subscribers to its More Rewards programme AED24 free talk-time in the form of bonus points.

Some 36 percent of BlackBerry users who took part in the Arabian Business poll said they will cancel their Etisalat contract “immediately” and switch to du.

“We continue to receive new enquires about our BlackBerry offering but it would be impossible to attribute these enquires to any one reason in particular,” said Saugat Chatterjee, PR manager for brand and communications at du.

Chatterjee denied du’s latest offer was timed to coincide with the fallout from the spyware controversy but was, instead, an announcement as part of planned commercial offers for customers.

Tell us what you think about the Etisalat spyware scandal? Which service provider would you choose to go with? Post your comments below.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

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John 11 years ago

A little bit of family rivalry is good for the consumer, but it hides the fact that Etisalat got caught red-handed and hasn't had the wit, class or grace to simply apologise and explain it made a mistake. It is being advised by the worst kind of PR morons the Gulf has to offer, people who have paid off the media for far too long and don't now that Twitter is more important than a free lunch. du isn't doing anything clever, just taking a guess at what the market is really worth. If you own a Blackberry in this country you should bin it, because there is nothing to say there isn't more hidden in them by the scoundrels.

Punky Brewster 11 years ago

I think du is smart to come up with such offers, considering it's competitor is in the news, for the wrong reasons!! BUT, before anyone jumps the gun, pls be advised that the TRA, supposedly an "Independent Regulator" has the final say when it comes to companies behaving badly. Since it's been VERY Distanced from this, I wonder if du is the same, in terms of Cust Service!! The TRA should also fine Etisalat for false advertisement when it announced 2 yrs ago, saying they too would start per-second billing, on ALL calls. However, that has yet to happen, and I'm sure if this was another country, they would've been fined HEAVILY. I think 36% should grow to atleast 50% for Etisalat to wake up & smell the pizza....!!!

Basel A-Shaban 11 years ago

Why are you acting all surprised Etisalat? You play with the bull, you will get the horn.

Raj 11 years ago

End of day both belong to same family. Well, clearly after Etisalats failed attempt to get hold of our data etc, we will positively move with Du.

Jahanzeb 11 years ago

I've applied for the Etisalat internet connection a month ago for my residence in Al Nahda 2, and still nobody for the Etisalat came to install the connection, all they are saying is that "Our fiber optic connections are on the way, so we can't give you Al Shamil as its not possible, all you have to do is wait, their customer service is poor and their monopoly on Internet and other services leave the customer to keep quiet and wait. Their fiber optic cable program is giving all the customers a headache and leaving them without internet connection, I'm a freelance graphic designer and I have to suffer the pain my customers gives me. I really wish du internet connection was the option in my area. I would have switched to du right after the 14 days promise the Etisalat gave me.

Manish R. Bhatia 11 years ago

Etisalat truly has ruined the BB service. I was quite pleased with myself for not downloading the "performance enhancement software" later I realised I had a hardware issue whereby my phone said "Insert Sim". After turning in my phone for necessary repairs I realised I have now got what everyone has been crying about, "The Bugg". To top it up, ive even lost my data & am not allowed to use my back up. Kudos etisalat.

Nicola 11 years ago

Let's see... more coverage with Etisalat who might be spying my calls (nothing to hide however) or with DU who after one and a half years say that my postpaid business number is enabled to work abroad but in fact it is not? In a few words, from frying to sauce pan... what a choice we have!!!

Jojo 11 years ago

because the "patch" is not really a patch - more of an application according to the general consensus of opinion you should be able to go to applications =>options =>advanced options =>applications then scroll to the nasty bug and disable it. Unsure of the exact name applied to t but there are lots of info out there so someone surely has already identified it...that should stop it working

Kamran 11 years ago

I applied for my landline telephone on 5th july and was hoping to get this fixed in max 3/4 days. It took about 21 days to get this resolved in during this time I suffered pain calling etisalat 100 times a day, no response, use etisalat feedback section online which always gave erorr messages and if luckily form is successfully submit you'll get auto reply with confirmation no. which is of no use. The service standards are poor, staff is demotivated and no one from their site office picks up the phone. Really really bad experience, I wish if there is another service provider available...

MiAah 11 years ago

Since June 22nd, all of a sudden I was unable to use the free WiFi to browse the internet. Instead, I was sent to an Etisalat site that said "You are using old settings" and that Etiasalt had changed it's settings and this would be in effect from June 30th, but clearly they implemented this a week earlier. The site then told me in order to change my settings, send "A WEYAK to 1010" and I will get the new settings via sms and I can then be able to browse. What happened instead was that I received an sms saying there were "no new settings available". I've since called the customer service centre in order to get the new settings only to be told there is a problem with the "A WEYAK" sms system that they are trying to fix, but the most frustrating part is that on every occasion that I tried to get the correct new settings, I've been given a different answer and none of them work! Exactly what is going on Etisalat? Is this a ploy to get me to sign up for your paid internet service? From the outset I refused to buy into this ridiculously priced plan of yours but you need to at least provide the basic service you claim you provide. I've since given up as I'd rather do without the free WiFi than be sucked in. A simple solution would be to send out an sms to all your customers with the proper new settings instead of giving us all the run-around, but this is not their true intention.