Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This Will Probably du

The UAE's new telecom operator is now out of the closet and its name is 'du'. I was utterly unsure about the name yesterday when it hit the papers, but today I've got over the surprise. I had hoped we would get a fruit-based name, but this will du. It's catching, see!

There's a good interview in 7Days with Osman Sultan, the CEO of du, who comes across as a smart cookie. He's not an engineer, his background has been in customer-facing roles. And if there's one thing that Etisalat has traditionally been ultra-hyper-mega crap at, it's dealing with customers. So already, I'm likin' it.

Then there's this: EITC (du's official name) took over the telecoms arm of TECOM last month. TECOM is the management company for Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Knowledge Hamlet. TECOM itself had earlier swallowed up SahmNet, which was Emaar's telecoms arm for residents of The Hills, The Lakes, The Greens, The Meadows, The Puddles etc. Osman Sultan has said they will be re-vamping the 'customer interface' for these customers as soon as possible.

This is great, for us and for du. They get to practice on a smallish bunch of customers before rolling out the system to the whole country. And for us in the Cities it means that if we have a problem with connectivity there is now the possiblity that they will send us a technician who has actually seen a computer before, can solve the problem without lengthy calls to whoever it is back at the office who keeps the brain, will not suggest formatting the hard disk and will not leave until the job is done.

It will also mean that I will never again receive an email entitled 'Hazardous Condition Warning'. This is the standard email that TECOM telecom sends out whenever there's going to be a spot of downtime. Honestly, I almost died the first time I got one of these - they might just as well have said 'bomb alert, you are dead, sorry'.

And maybe they can sort out a billing system that users can understand. For VOIP telephone and fatband Interweb at my office in Media City I pay a fixed monthly fee (which is still way too much). I get a bill every month, and it sometimes has extra bells and whistles for mysterious stuff ('2 paperclips: attendance at site for 16-year-old trainee who wasted two hours of your time and still didn't solve the problem: posting 1 letter to Lithuania'). What it never has is any kind of accumulated balance, so if I don't pay one month it doesn't remind me about that outstanding amount, it just tells me about the amount for the previous month. They've never actually cut me off (and I'd have to kill them if they did, given the huge security deposit that they're not paying me any interest on). But it's irritating when somebody finally realises that there's a bunch of outstanding bills and they suddenly insist that they must be settled in the next ten minutes.

Anyhoo, I digress.

du, bring it on.

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