CEO of telco du says technical issues delaying roll-out of service
Mobile number portability in the United Arab Emirates has
been further delayed, the chief executive of telecoms operator du said on
Tuesday, slowing down attempts to boost competition in the sector.
The latest deadline to launch the service had been the end
of September and would have allowed customers of du and rival Etisalat to
switch providers and keep the same phone number.
When asked if number portability had been delayed again,
Osman Sultan, du's chief executive said: "That is correct."
"We were testing. In the testing phase certain
technical issues can appear. We are just evaluating how long it will
take," he said.
Number portability would allow customers of du and rival
Etisalat to switch providers and keep the same phone number. The Telecommunication
Regulatory Authority (TRA) had said portability would be available by mid-2008.
The TRA has been taking steps to boost competition in the
UAE, considered the second-least competitive in the Middle East and North
Africa region after Qatar, according to Nomura.
"Number portability in Oman and Saudi Arabia didn't
have much impact on customer churn between operators and the same is likely to
happen in the UAE," said Diala Hoteit, NBK Capital telecoms analyst.
"It will increase the level of competition, with
operators more likely to match each other's offers, but in this region most
people have more than one SIM card ... so not many would permanently switch
operator if number portability was introduced."
An infrastructure sharing deal so operators can compete in
fixed line services is slated to be introduced by year-end, but has already
Last week, du said TV would not be part of the initial
agreement. Both operators already offer landline telephone, broadband and
internet-protocol TV, but not in the same districts.
Amazing something this basic can take this long to implement. North America has had this option for several years already.
Actually, it's been nearly 25 years for landlines and since about 2003 for mobile portability in the US.