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Tue 17 May 2011 09:22 AM

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UAE Etisalat sees $817m a year infrastructure spend

Telco plans spending for 5 years on new technology, says has cash reserves to fund expansion

UAE Etisalat sees $817m a year infrastructure spend
Etisalat pays 50 percent of its earnings as royalties to the government

UAE telecom operator Etisalat will spend up to AED3bn
($817m) annually for the next five years on UAE infrastructure, its acting CEO
said on Monday.

The former monopoly, also known as Emirates
Telecommunications Corp, said it will spend on technology for 2G, 3G and 4G
networks as well as for IT systems and mobile towers.

"We will spend about two to three billion dirhams
annually on the network in the UAE for up to five years," Nasser Bin
Obood, acting chief executive of Etisalat, told reporters at a conference in
Abu Dhabi.

He said the company has sufficient cash reserves for these
expansion plans and will not look at funding options.

Obood said the company will look to sign an
infrastructure-sharing agreement with rival operator du by the end of the year.

Etisalat pays 50 percent of its earnings as royalties to the
government and Obood said the issue has been under discussion for a certain

"It adds pressure. However, the issue is being looked
at and we are sure that the government and all the stakeholders will come up
with a reasonable plan."

In March, Etisalat withdrew plans to bid for Syria's third
mobile licence, saying the terms did not offer sufficient value for
shareholders, and it has scrapped a $12bn takeover of Kuwait's Zain .

Etisalat had 7.43 million UAE mobile subscribers, 1.13
million fixed line subscribers and 0.49 million internet subscribers at the end
of March.

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