UAE Telcos Launch Mobile Number Portability

The mobile number portability service will come into effect on December 30.



The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that local operators Etisalat and du are ready to launch the mobile number portability service in the country with the opening of a central system this month.

The regulator said that it gave both the operators a deadline to prepare their commercial offerings and sales channels to launch the service, which will come into effect on December 30, 2013.

The mobile number portability service will allow subscribers to switch between the two service providers while retaining their existing number and the network code. The service, which is being launched in the country after a delay of more than five years, is expected to promote competition between the operators.

TRA has said that both the licensees have met the requirements and technical procedural adjustments ahead of the mobile number portability launch.

The regulator had previously fined Etisalat for blocking its rival du’s texts regarding the new feature.

Du had launched a publicity campaign asking people to send a text message to a number in order to receive information about the number portability feature. Etisalat blocked these messages from November 21, preventing its customers from receiving the texts from du, according to the TRA.

The regulator ordered Etisalat to lift the block and also issued a “Violation Decision” against the operator as it failed to comply with the TRA’s order, according to media reports.

Du has rapidly captured marketshare away from former monopoly Etisalat since its launch in 2007 owing to its competitive charges and payment plans. The operator had a 46.4 per cent share of the UAE’s mobile subscribers at the end of October, according to its third-quarter results.

Currently, the UAE has a mobile penetration rate of 181 per cent and a smartphone penetration rate of 73.8 per cent, making it an attractive telecoms market.