Playing petty? Etisalat gets itself in trouble for blocking du's campaign
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE on Monday has issued a violation decision against etisalat for blocking a du campaign to raise awareness of mobile number portability (MNP).
Du had asked its individual and business mobile users interested in MNP to SMS the word ‘CHANGE’ to 3553 to receive information about MNP. It was intended that consumers who did this would receive an SMS from du containing information relating to MNP.
But etisalat has been blocking the SMS, meaning their subscribers received no response to messages from du.
The block has remained in place since last Thursday despite a TRA request for it to be lifted. Etisalat was asked to lift it on Friday, but failed to do so, resulting in a violation.
Du launched the campaign last Wednesday after the TRA set December 22 as the deadline for MNP to begin in the UAE. MNP means consumers will have the ability to switch service provider while keeping their existing number.
“TRA has been very proactive this time and they are ensuring that consumers get the quality of service that they expect. It is better for the telco operators to streamline their operations in line with the rules and regulations set out by the regulator,” Bhanu Chaddha, senior telecom analyst at research firm International Data Corporation, told Gulf News.
From a market point of view, he said the smooth operation between the two operators is very important for MNP to function properly.
The blocking will not “affect the consumers as MNP process has still not started and what du is doing is just a registration,” he said.
TRA made an announcement on mobile number portability on October 21.
“An essential element in the health of the UAE’s mobile market is the ability of consumers to choose between competing providers. UAE mobile phone users have the right — if they wish — to retain their mobile telephone number and this is precisely the motivation behind the announcement at Gitex Technology Week 2013,” said Mohammad Nasser Al Ganem, TRA Director General, said recently.
Even though MNP could bring benefits to consumers in terms of lower service tariffs and improved quality of service and also help regulatory authorities to stimulate value-based competition, Chaadha said that it will only be a limited success as prepaid subscribers have higher propensity to churn than postpaid customers, and are generally not worried about changing their numbers, which puts a question mark on the need for MNP.
Conversely, he said MNP is likely to result in operators becoming more customer-focused and offering need-based and micro-segmented tariff plans. One direct benefit could be an improvement in the quality of customer service, which remains a key pain point in the region.
He said the sweet spot for telecom operator is the mobile data, so it is going to be commoditised.
“We have many firsts to our credit, and we are delighted to announce that now we are also the first telecom operator to offer people in the UAE the option to indicate their interest in switching to du and experience the freedom of MNP,” Fahad Al Hassawi, Chief Commercial Officer, du, said in a e-mailed statement.