Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Anyone Fancy A Change? Etisalat Doesn't!

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The UAE's 'incumbent' telco, Etisalat, has managed to neatly underline quite how fearful it is of mobile number portability by trying to block its competitor's 'change' campaign.

Mobile number portability - the ability to change operator without changing your number - should arguably have come to the UAE much sooner: it's a key element of any sensible competitive market and regulatory regime. It was first talked about back in 2009, in fact. Du has always said it wasn't the one dragging heels around here and that makes perfect sense - incumbents always face the challenge of 'churn', the process whereby harried and fed up customers migrate to competitors, so the longer they can delay MNP and preserve that barrier to entry, the better.

Worse, many, many people in the UAE already carry two devices - one Du and one Etisalat. It's one reason behind the country's remarkably high mobile penetration. But it also gives subscribers a taste of the service offered by the competitor.

So Du, on the news that MNP would finally be brought in, started a natty little campaign offering to provide information to people who text CHANGE to 3553. Etisalat responded by blocking that number. Regulator TRA promptly fined Etisalat (sum, of course, undisclosed) which then grudgingly unblocked the number. The National reports on the whole farago with glee - as does Kipp.

Great service, great value, consumer choice. These are all good things, no? Values for any company to aspire to! It's just that, well, someone doesn't really seem to be entering into the spirit of things around here, do they?

Given the choice, keeping your number, would you change?
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