DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will allow mobile phone number portability by December, its telecoms regulator said yesterday, more than five years after the service was meant to be introduced to boost competition in the state-controlled sector.
Number portability would allow customers of rival operators Etisalat and du to switch providers and keep the same phone number. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) had said this would be introduced by mid-2008, but the service has been repeatedly delayed, with the regulator citing technical issues.
The TRA will now introduce number portability by December, it said in a statement on Monday.
Du ended Etisalat’s domestic monopoly in 2007, though both companies are majority owned by state-linked institutions and analysts say that competition between the two is relatively benign compared with other markets in the Gulf and Europe.
Du and Etisalat have yet to agree a deal to allow competition in fixed-line services, more than four years after negotiations began. The two companies already offer fixed-line, broadband and television packages in the UAE, but not in the same districts, with du largely confined to the newer areas of Dubai.
Hamas admits building tunnel
GAZA: Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility for a tunnel that Israel said was found beneath the heavily fortified Israel-Gaza frontier.
A website for a Hamas radio station called Al Aqsa said the group’s armed wing was responsible for what it called the “Khan Younis Tunnel,” named for a part of the coastal territory where the subterranean passage was found.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the Islamist group’s military wing, said in an interview broadcast by the station that Hamas’s armed brigades “dug the tunnel, they were responsible for it”.