It struck me this morning how much this FLAG/SEA ME WE cable outage must be hurting our good friends over at Du Towers given that their network is based on Internet Protocol telephony.
Poor old Du. It must be galling for them not to be able to take over the whole market by slashing prices left right and centre and so not realise one of the main upside benefits of an IP network, while at the same time suffering from the down-side of having an IP network - being horribly exposed to service outages when people drop anchors on your international cable infrastructure.
One of the reasons why the whole country didn't flock to Du when it launched was that the regulator blocked any price competition - mad, when you have an IP based operator launching against a ruggedly circuit-switched incumbent. However, in a perverse sort of way, Du is being paid off for being a not terribly interesting competitor, because it's able to charge circuit-switched telephone rates for an IP network - an absolutely enormous profit margin.
That this state of affairs exists because the regulator is so interested in protecting the vested interests represented by former monopoly and still massively dominant telco Etisalat is undoubted. That it is also artificially halting progress in the market is also undoubted.
However, the fact remains that the Du network is utterly reliant on the Internet to carry its international traffic - and that the recent outages have enabled a quietly gleeful Etisalat to announce that it is helping Du out. Du's response is evident in today's newspapers, a faintly ridiculous slice of blablabla press release announcing that there were now 1.5 million Du customers, which Gulf News for some reason carried faithfully in all its Technicolour puke-inducing glory.
So I called my pal who has a Du mobile and asked how his service had been, rather hoping (I must confess) for a horror story to pop on the blog. But he told me that he'd had no problems at all, that service had been completely unaffected by the recent Internet outages.
As he chatted to me, he started to break up until he was completely inaudible in a sea of pops, clicks and gaps. So I'm not really sure if the Du network has been affected by the cable outages or that's just the service quality he's used to. And I don't know anyone else who uses Du to ask - even though there are, apparently, 1.5 million of them out there...