UAE delays move for phone number portability

Technical problem forces regulator to move new service from telcos Etisalat and du back to Q3
DU Stand at Gitex 2008
By Andy Sambidge
Tue 19 Apr 2011 06:58 PM

Technical issues have delayed plans to introduce telephone number portability in the UAE, the country's telecom regulator said on Tuesday.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement that the launch date for the service - which is aimed at boosting competition in a saturated market - was being put back to the third quarter of 2011.

Under the Mobile Number Portability Service, customers of Etisalat and du will be able to keep their existing telephone numbers even if they switch provider.

In a statement, the TRA said it had "foreseen the need to extend the launch to the third quarter of this year".

The regulator said the move was "in order to allow for several performance and functionality enhancements" to be made to the system.

It added that the licensees - Etisalat and du - would resume testing the system and the new service would be launched "as soon as they are ready".

Mohamed al-Ghanim, director general of the TRA, told newswire Reuters: "We were planning to launch number portability by the end of the first quarter, but we have released two batches (of numbers) the operators for further testing.

"We are waiting confirmation from the operators. This is a technical glitch. We are expecting this fix will be the last fix."

Telco du ended Etisalat's domestic monopoly in 2007, although both firms are part owned by various government-related entities.

Earlier this month, the TRA said the number of active mobile phone subscriptions in the UAE had exceeded the 11 million barrier for the first time.

It said the total number of subscriptions stood at 11.05 million in January, the most recent figures available.

It added that the number of subscriptions per 100 people was 198.5, meaning almost every person in the UAE owns two mobile phones.

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