A mobile phone user Image Credit: File photo

Abu Dhabi: Members of the Federal National Council on Wednesday criticised UAE telecom providers Etisalat and DU for costly services, coverage outage especially in remote areas, poor solutions and customer services.

Members of the House were particularly angry at the telecom operators’ lack of response and failure to show up at the meeting of the House’s technical, energy and mineral resources committee, to discuss the services provided by them, stressing the need for the UAE regulator, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, to force them to attend.

Representatives of the two companies also failed to show up at the House’s session on Wednesday, giving no reason for their absence.

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FNC member Mohammad Eissa Obaid Al Kashef from Umm Al Quwain Image Credit: WAM

Members of the House demanded laws regulating telecom services be changed to eliminate the monopoly excercised by the two telecom providers, thus raising prices and offering poor quality services.

Mohammad Al Kashf, a member of the FNC, said UAE telecom services are very expensive and most of the telecom operators’ profits are from the UAE market, not from their operation abroad.

Al Kasf said Etisalat and Du had cut off internet services to customers for failing to pay bills, amid of coronavirus crisis, which adversely impacted the e-learning.

A survey conducted by an ad hoc showed that 75 per cent of respondents believe that the prices of services provided by telecom companies are high, and that 44 per cent of respondents believe that telecom companies do not provide sufficient offers for people of determination and senior citizens in the UAE.

The survey also revealed the absence of competitive prices, compared to other companies in the countries of the world, the largest share of Etisalt’s profits is achieved in the UAE market, it is too difficult for customers to cancel services, while the signing up to the services is much easier, and the lack of offers and packages dedicated to small and medium enterprises SMEs.

Another survey, carried out by the House and published on social media, showed 75 per cent of respondents believe that the prices of services provided by the telecom providers are high, that 44 per cent of respondents think that telecom companies do not offer enough initiatives for people of determination, that only 34 per cent of respondents think that the quality of services of telecom companies is acceptable, and that 35 per cent of respondents see telecom companies are slow in solving problems of customers.

Yet another poll of 1,013 people, including 764 citizens about the quality of telecom providers’ services amid COVID-19 crisis showed that 62.78 per cent of respondents were unsatisfied over the quality of services, while just 37.22 per cent of respondents were satisfied. Some 65.64 per cent of respondents said they were unsatisfied over the telecom companies’ action to fix issues raised by customers, while just 34.36 pe rcent said they were satisfied.

A whopping 78.98 per cent of respondents said they were dissatisfied over the prices of services amid the strain, while 21.2 were satisfied.

Also 78.09 per cent were dissatisfied over special offers amid coronavirus crisis, while 21.91 per cent of the respondents were satisfied.

The House’s report revealed lack of a clear strategic plan on emratisation, and the weak role of the telecom regulator in obligating telecom companies to commit themselves to specific emiratisation quotas in various jobs.

Post-COVID-19 Proposals

With the coronavirus pandemic pushing the world to adopt new norms in providing services, the telecom sector too has had to redesign its ways, members of the House argued.

They said the current pandemic is unprecedented in the effect it is having on consumer behaviours, as the world looks more and more to digital solutions, reshaping consumer demand at a rapid pace.

The future of the telecom industry is about being current to the needs of consumers, which will be more increasingly digital, as consumers become more and more used to doing things digitally, they said.

They demanded a shift towards internet of things as the way in which we communicate evolves, more intrinsically for telecoms will be the changes in the expectations of consumers for more innovative digital propositions, and demand for outstanding customer experience, that will be the new driving force behind telecoms, both globally and in the region.