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Expansion plans on du’s radar

Dubai: Du is looking at opportunities for expansion in the region as the operator is getting on par with its rival – etisalat.

“We have reached a phase of growth. The door is open and we are looking at opportunities but it will depend on case by case. It makes sense for us to look for opportunities in the region than beyond the region,” Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of du, told Gulf News.

The telecom operator had applied for a MVNO licence in Saudi Arabia and later found that it was not interested as the operator doesn’t meet the required regulatory criteria to bid for a licence.

MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) buy wholesale access to an incumbent operator’s network and then sell products without having to invest physically.

“Du has some healthy cash flow for expansion. They must be evaluating strategies right now,” said Bhanu Chaddha, senior telecom analyst at research firm International Data Corporation.

He said the competitive intensity is growing in the country and du is getting on par with etisalat. It is good for operators to look for opportunities as maturity happens to explore for more revenue growth.

“It is better for du to expand in the region than in other emerging markets,” he said.

The company’s free cash flow reached Dh2.33 billion, up from Dh1.75 billion in 2012.

When asked about infrastructure sharing, Sultan said it is a very important topic to the company.

“The track of growth is important to us. Although the new technologies in the mobile sector are allowing more and more broadband connectivity, the converged use of telecom services and the importance of more videos at home are making the subject [infrastructure sharing] very important, he said.

“We are very eager to make it happen as I believe it is be very useful for consumers. Some open issues are still there,” he said.

Chaddha said that there are still hurdles to clear for network sharing. It is good to see MNP being launched in the UAE but this is another roadblock which the regulator has to address. Sooner it happens it is “better for the consumers,” he said.