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Etisalat free calls initiative to have little impact

81 per cent of UAE residents say mobile is their most important piece of technology

Image Credit: Gulf News archives
An Etisalat retail store in the Dubai Mall.
15 Gulf News

Dubai: Etisalat’s move to make landline calls in the UAE free will have little impact on the market place.

“Current move by Etisalat appears to be in line with company’s strategy to strengthen its market position, over the past six to eight months it has also taken other similar initiatives to counter growing competitive intensity first by introducing pay-per-use mobile tariff plans and then by streamlining offerings for SMEs in the country,” Bhanu Chaddha, senior research analyst at IDC, told Gulf News.

He said Etisalat’s move may also be in preparation of the launch of fixed network sharing that has been delayed for few years now. Once launched, fixed network sharing will enable du to offer fixed line services in areas where it is currently not allowed to offer these services.

As of March 31, 2013, there are more than 14 million mobile subscribers in the UAE compared to 1.67 million fixed line subscribers.

UAE’s mobile phone penetration is of the highest in the world.

“The new initiative will have a small impact on the usage as inter-emirate calls will be free of charge,” said Deepak Babani, CEO of Eros Group.

As of now, inter-emirate calls are chargeable and from July 1, it will be totally free.

He said that he does not use landline and for convenience purpose most people use only mobile phones.

According to Mohammad Nazar V.K., an engineer at Adnoc, Etisalat has done a good job but at the wrong time. Most of the people use mobile phones and I have never used the fixed line for the past one year. So the new initiative is really not going to impact my telephone bills.

“What etisalat should have done is make the landline calls to mobile phone free and it would have benefited many residents and reduced their monthly telephone bills. I hope that both the telcom operators will do the same in the near future,” he said.

He said that many of the residents are using mobile phones than fixed lines to make calls, so making landline calls free will not make much of a difference.

According to a recent study by TNS Mena, 83 per cent of users in the UAE agree that mobile “is an extension of me; I feel lost without it.” 81 per cent stated their mobile is their most important technology gadget.

Ashish Panjabi, COO at Jacky’s Electronics, is not sure of how many people will use the landline following etisalat’s new move.

“Telco operators are offering free bundled minutes with each package and most of the people are texting, instead of making calls,” he said.