Saturday, May 07, 2005

Big Golf Balls!

Couple of interesting things about Etisalat (Big Golf Balls, apologies to SecretDubai), our beloved telecoms company here in the Emirates.

BGB the other day was responding to questions about the blocking of PC VOIP services such as Skype. Etisalat's head of public relations, Ahmad Bin Ali, denied using VOIP was ever legal. "Internet telephony up until now is illegal to use in the UAE. Etisalat can't make these laws. There's no law." I think he just shot himself in the foot there. The law says nothing about VOIP (as it never said anything about the InterWeb). But his presumption is that that must mean it is illegal!

Front page news on today's Gulf News - a Dhs 4 billion rival to Etisalat has just got an operating licence. Probably a year ago, it was announced that Etisalat would no longer have a monopoly on telecoms services. The Telecoms Regulation Authority was established, and its very first press release said that new entrants must give 51% shareholding to the Gubmnt. Hence the absolute lack of interest from foreign telecoms operators. Etisalat-2 seems to be owned by various Gubmnt agencies, and is likely therefore to be no more than a palliative to the WTO rather than a genuine competitor who would drive down prices.

I'm waiting to be proved wrong.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that sahm, the provider of telecoms and gadgetry to emaar will soon be taken over by dubai holding - and that they will be given a licence also... Maybe that is what we are waiting for!


2:06 pm  
Blogger secretdubai said...

It's not a lack of interest by foreign operators - they're not allowed to bid for the licence. It's locals only.

The whole thing is just a sop to the wTO in my opinion: "look, we're liberalised!"

There are actually some fine minds at Etisalat, at and near the top, but I am sick of the prevarication.

According to this, VoIP should have been "legalised" from 2005.

"Under existing laws, Etisalat does not allow personal computer to phone calls.

"All this could change starting next year, when the UAE's pledge to the World Trade Organisation to open its telecom sector comes into force."

12:49 am  

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