The telecommunications operator du is set to gain access to the network of its rival Etisalat within weeks, ushering in a fresh wave of competition in the phone, internet and television market.
If the move goes ahead as expected, UAE residents will finally have a choice of telecoms providers regardless of where they live.
Etisalat has a monopoly on traditional telephones, internet service and cable TV throughout most of the country, while du services a small area of Dubai that includes newer neighbourhoods such as Dubai Marina and Media City.
“Welcome to competition,” Farid Faraidooni, the chief commercial officer for du, said this week.
The development will be a boon to du, which has been able to offer UAE consumers only mobile and landline services because of regulatory and technical issues.
Here are my personal predictions for broadband internet access and telecommunications in general in the next 12-24 months:
- Du and Etisalat will begin a price war and heavily reduce the cost of their bundles (i.e. internet/tv/phone bundles) in a short timespan in an effort to gain market share.
- We will see impossibly ridiculous combinations of high-speed internet with low bandwidth (like Etisalat's connections that you can only use for 6 hours at full capacity in an entire month) In light of bandwidth increases for internet connections it is likely (and already on the way to happening) that we will see people having to pay for additional bandwidth through their teeth (like Telstra in Australia
used to charge 465 AED per additional GB). Because of these bandwidth restrictions we will be 'heavily reliant' on content provided by Etisalat / Du.
- They will make it harder to individually purchase services (i.e. a separate internet or separate telephone connection) and harder to purchase services with no obligations.
- They will both introduce things like yearly contracts, ETF (early termination fees) and start ramping up the fees so we can enjoy full duopoly greatness; the contracts will make it hard for us to move between Etisalat and Du. You can already see that Du's new low priced, high speed connections have a 12 month contract with a 100 AED early termination fee (in my opinion this isn't too bad)
- While the price of telecommunications will seem to come down, we will all be at the mercy of contracts with our telephone companies and will end up paying heavily for breaching them.
- Skype will still be cheaper.
- The TRA will probably say "no comment"