By Andy Sambidge
Arab Advisors Group study says UAE's competition intensity ranking drops to 45%.
The level of competition in the UAE's telecom sector has fallen over the past year, according to a 2010 index released by the Arab Advisors Group.
Its Cellular Competition Intensity Index 2010 ranked Jordan as the most competitive Arab telecoms market but said that the UAE had fallen in the rankings compared to June 2009.
Compared to Jordan's competitiveness scored on more than 80 percent, the UAE scored just 45.4 percent and was one market to see its score fall during the past 12 months.
The index results will be disappointing to the UAE's telecoms watchdog which published its new regulations to ensure greater competition between operators Etisalat and du earlier this year.
Under the new Competition Framework, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said it would crack down on any anti-competitive practices, adding that any complaints lodged by either company would be investigated.
Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, said the move was an "importance piece" for regulating the telecoms sector in the UAE.
But according to the Arab Advisors Group index, only three telecom markets in the Arab world are less competitive - Syria, Lybia and Lebanon.
In the latest index, Saudi Arabia came in second, followed by Palestine.
Last month, the UAE said it had no plan to offer a third mobile phone licence.
The Arab Advisors Group said it has devised the Cellular Competition Intensity Index to rate and assess the intensity level of competition in the Arab World's cellular markets.
The index takes into account the number of operators, packages, and services available in each of the 19 countries covered by the Arab Advisors Group.
Faten Bader, Arab Advisors Group senior research analyst, said: "In addition to having four cellular operators, Jordan has intense competition in the ILD segment and has the highest number of prepaid plans amounting to twenty four plans."
She added that Oman's cellular market improved its competitiveness most over the past year, moving up from 15th place to fourth in 2010.
What competition? Whether it's a monopoly, or a duopoly (where both companies are owned by the same umbrella company anyway) - can it really be called 'competition'?