New UAE telcoms operator pledges competition to Etisalat on all services – and on price
Emirates Company for Integrated Telecommunications (ECIT), the UAE’s new telecommunications operator, will compete with Etisalat on all fields including pricing, according to CEO Osman Sultan.
In an interview with MEED magazine (Middle East Economic Digest, February 10 issue) Sultan remained realistic about the task of breaking the monopoly of incumbent operator Etisalat. He said: “It will not be a cut-throat price war, because we will not strongly attack one of the strongest financial operators in this part of the world.
“This doesn’t mean we won’t compete on having better prices or better value for money: we will compete on all aspects of the value chain.
“We have to be creative in our pricing, which means things like offering different packages; we are dealing with a company with very deep pockets.”
Sultan, the former head of Egypt’s first mobile operator MobiNil, took that corporation through market capitalisation into its current position as one of Egypt’s largest firms.
ECIT is 50 per cent owned by the federal UAE government, with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Company and The Emirates Company for Telecommunications & Technology, a new subsidiary of Dubai Technology, e-Commerce & Free Zone Authority (TECOM) with 25 per cent stake each.
At the end of January, Etisalat announced a 25 per cent rise in net profits to US$1.17 billion, with total revenues climbing 23 per cent to $3.512 billion. The UAE government has a 60 per cent share in Etisalat.
Both operators are set to sign contracts with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Mohammed Omran, CEO of Etisalat, said: “We have never really acted as a monopoly. We have been competing indirectly with the rest of the Gulf, but now the competition will be direct.”
The interviews with Sultan and Omran feature in MEED’s latest special report on the Middle East’s fastgrowing telecoms sector.
The report also reveals that tender documents have been released in Egypt for the licence to operate the country’s third GSM mobile phone network. This move will break up the existing duopoly of Vodafone Egypt and MobiNil.
Regional operators who have already expressed their intention to bid are Kuwait’s MTC and Wataniya Telecom, Q-Tel from Qatar and Etisalat.
Other potential candidates include Bahrain’s Batelco and Beirut-based Investcom, which is expanding aggressively into Africa. To date, international operators to have expressed an interest are South Africa’s MTN, which has partnered with the local Raya Holding, and Norway’s Telenor.