Mobile portability deferred

ABU DHABI — Telecom subcribers awaiting Mobile Number Portability, or MNP, will have to show more patience as the service has been delayed due to technical problems.

By Haseeb Haider

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Published: Wed 28 Sep 2011, 10:18 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:06 AM

The facility, which allows mobile subscribers to switch over to other telecommunication operator without changing its telephone number, was initially planned to be offered in March this year but was delayed to the third quarter of the year.

Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) Mohammed Al Ghanem confirmed that “there are some technical problems,” due to which the facility would not be made possible by the end of this month. He was speaking to reporters after opening the two-day Internet Show in the capital.

The TRA’s participation in this show comes in line with its message in supporting the ICT sector in the UAE, reflects its persistence to promote investment and innovation in this sector, and reaffirms its leading position in performing its duties towards the society by elevating the sector’s management standards to world- class levels.

In his opening speech, Al Ghanem said: “The TRA has always been keen to participate in all events that can advance the ICT sector in the UAE. The TRA has always been the umbrella that provides a safe environment for e-commerce to prosper, and to benefit our users who are the central point of all our endeavours.”

“This recent edition of the show witnessed a wider participation of major players in sectors related to the internet and services provided through it. We are so proud of this fact, as it reflects the progress of the ICT sector in the UAE, and strengthens its leading regional position. It also indicates the big amount of achievements reached by this sector, which indeed benefit service providers and end-users on the Net,” he added.

Giving industry perspective, Osman Sultan, the Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, or du, who was present on the occasion, said that trials for the mobile phone portability conducted recently have shown that there are some technical issues that need to be fixed. He didn’t elaborate on the nature of those issues.

Asked when this facility will finally be launched, Sultan said, “We need to assess how long it would take, that’s why we have indicated to postpone it, until [such time], these issues are fixed.”

In other countries, mobile number portability has fuelled competition, as telecoms offer attractive prices to retain customers.

Progress on 4G networks

The director-general, who was happy over the launch of 4G Mobile Broadband Networks, said the UAE will soon become a unique country, which would offer a competition in the new technology area only to benefit the customers and boost the growth of the ICT sector.

On the issue of higher roaming charges outside the GCC, Al Ghanem said his authority has no jurisdiction over it, as it was a bilateral issue.”

Many countries have imposed taxes while, some have levied charges on international telephony,” he said.

But, the telecoms have found a best solution to sort out this complex issue, by offering what he called “smart tariffs” giving attractive prices to their travelling customers.

The director general said that the GCC’s telecom operators had made the second cut of 30 per cent to their roaming charges in July this year, in line with the decision of the economic ministers.

Giving telecommunication industry’s perspective on the issue, Sultan said that telephone tariffs in the country have undergone a big change, since the commencement of the competition three years ago.

He said that the telecom operators in other countries took 10-15-years to reach a stage, where they have reduced the tariffs to a very competitive level, after tough competition.

The chief executive said that bringing down the prices overnight will disturb the entire telecom sector and its growth, putting at risk its sustainability.

Giving a comparison of the level of telecom services available in the country, Sultan said the speed of broadband in the UAE is the fastest in the region, which is offered on very competitive prices.

He said that the consumers in the country are getting more than pay for.


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