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TMCNet:  Will UAE consumers switch telecom operators using MNP? [Seven Days (United Arab Emirates)]

[December 29, 2013]

Will UAE consumers switch telecom operators using MNP? [Seven Days (United Arab Emirates)]

(Seven Days (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) UAE mobile users will today for the first time be able to move between telecoms operators Etisalat and du without having to surrender their existing phone number.

The shake-up of the country's telecoms sector is designed to offer greater competition between the two firms by removing a potential barrier to those customers considering a change.

Mobile Number Portability (MNP), to give the reform its formal title, begins today and the country's rival operators yesterday signalled they are ready to welcome switching customers with open arms – with thousands of staff trained in how to execute the change.

Market leader Etisalat is promising those who make a switch to their mobile services a "seamless process" while du is pledging anyone switching to them will find it "hassle-free".

The time to embrace change is here," du's chief commercial officer Fahad AlHassawi said yesterday. He promised his firm was "ready" for any influx in new customers, having "trained 2,500 personnel for more than 12,800 hours" across its customer care lines and retail stores.

Etisalat's chief marketing officer Khaled al Khouly said the firm anticipates "an upsurge in queries related to MNP" and is posting staff trained on the issue to its sale centres.

Both firms have set up toll-free numbers for customers seeking to change to their services – those who want to hear what Etisalat can offer should call 80099, while those who want to make a leap to du can call 800 242643 (800CHANGE) or text 'CHANGE' to 3553. Both firms are also carrying details on their websites on how to make the switch.

The conditions set down by UAE telecom watchdog the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) mandate that those making the switch should be able to keep their old number and should not have to pay any additional charges to change operators.

Du warned customers that there are a number of scenarios where they may not be able to complete the change between operators, including issues with the validity of their existing number or a flaw in their identification records.

Both firms will be on standby today as they anticipate a flurry of changes. Yesterday du said it "can process up to 3,000 applications every day".

But an informal poll by 7DAYS yesterday found that 70 per cent of mobile users plan to stay put.

That may not be the ringing endorsement the firm's might expect – one 7DAYS facebook follower was not alone when he posted the following sentiment yesterday: "Both offer the same packages for the same service so why bother? The myth of competitive mobile services in the UAE is just that – a myth." (c) 2013 Al Sidra Media LLC Provided by, an company

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