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Du Slashes International Call Rates by 50%

/ 10 August 2009

DUBAI — Du, the UAE’s No. 2 telecom service provider, launched a new mobile plan on Sunday that effectively slashes all international call charges by 50 per cent to Dh1 per minute, while also offering up to 300 minutes of free national calls.

The Dubai-based firm’s “Business Super Plan” targets the small and medium-sized enterprises that constitute 90 per cent of all businesses in the UAE. Some in the industry believe that such substantial cuts in rate could stimulate a corresponding, tit-for-tat move from du’s rival etisalat and might lead to a full-blown price war between the country’s only two telecom operators.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the government’s watchdog agency, has approved the new service plan, du said.

In addition to halving the prevailing Dh2 per minute rate, the plans “other exceptional benefits” include one rate on all incoming calls while roaming, a 50 per cent discount on calls within a business, and pay-by-the-second billing on all outgoing calls from the UAE, Farid Faraidooni, Executive Vice President for du Commercial, told Khaleej Times.

An etisalat spokesman said that part of the new du plan appeared similar to what his company already offers. He did not elaborate further but said, “We are looking at the new du plan and may even come out with a response soon.”

Du’s Faraidooni said the new scheme would enable du to boost its mobile penetration in the UAE. Last month, it claimed a 30 per cent share of the UAE mobile phone market a year ahead of plan.

At that time, du posted Dh242 million in net income before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization for the April-June quarter. The earnings result marked a 52 per cent increase over the comparable income figure for the first quarter and a 734 per cent jump from the second quarter of 2008, du’s first full yearof operations.

Du has two Business Super Plan options tailored to differing levels of mobile usage, Faraidooni said.

“Under Business Super 150, customers pay Dh150 per month and receive 150 international minutes and 150 in national minutes, every month. Under the second Business Super 300 plan, for Dh300 monthly payment, customers will get 300 international minutes and 300 national minutes every month,” he said. “In both cases, customers get double the value of what they pay on a monthly basis.”

Customers can use the international minutes bundle to make outgoing calls from the UAE to any international destination during peak and off-peak hours of the day.

“We have an in-depth understanding of the telecom requirements of small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, in the UAE, and our pioneering initiative brings a wide array of benefits to SME owners looking for a flexible, affordable mobility package that simplifies and reduces their mobile spend. All existing SME customers of du can migrate to the new plan,” Faraidooni said.

Du was holding discussions with the telecom regulator TRA to expand its fixed line network within the UAE. Currently, du offers fixed-line telecom services only in specific areas. To expand its reach to other parts of the UAE, it has to have an infrastructure-sharing agreement with Etisalat.


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