Archrival UAE telcos du and Etisalat are reportedly weighing a network sharing agreement in the UAE to offset escalating infrastructure costs.
du is planning to spend more than US$500 million on mobile and landline network upgrades this year, and is hoping to forge an agreement with Etisalat to offset some of the associated costs in light of the current economic downturn.
The development sets a concilliatory tone between the two rivals who have been sparring over access to Etisalat's national communications network.
As reported earlier by DPme.com, the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) fined Etisalat Dh400,000 ($110,000) in April for delaying upgrades to this network that would enable du to offer triple-play services to customers across the country.
du yesterday revealed plans to launch advanced – and costly – IPTV-based services in Dubai, including HDTV and video-on-demand applications, in the coming months, following the completion of its core IP network upgrade to 40Gb/s.
“Talks are continuing between du and Etisalat on sharing infrastructure,” du CEO Osman Sultan, told Bloomberg. “The current economic situation is pushing” the companies to share infrastructure, he added.
Sultan said he remained confident du would continue to grow its voice comms and broadband subscriptions in 2009, despite an expected population decline in the UAE over the next 12 months.
“If you look at our numbers in the first quarter, we added close to 250,000 customers,” Sultan said.