UAE telco uses Bell Pottinger as rival enters arena

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates' main telecoms player has taken on its first agency as it faces competition for the first time.

The Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) has called in Bell Pottinger's Collective to provide consumer and corporate comms support.

A year ago, the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority approved the formation of a new telecoms firm, Du, thus ending Etisalat's monopoly in the region.

Thirty-year-old Etisalat runs cable TV, telephone and internet systems across the Emirates; its monopoly is only broken within certain parts of Dubai.

The Collective will have to deal with concerns around Etisalat's internet service provider arm, eCompany, which has a rigorous censorship programme. Many social networking and porn websites are automatically blocked by the ISP.

This month the firm released a revamped version of its WebMail email system. It is also pumping money into the creation of WiFi wireless hotspots in major conurbations. The moves come only five months after Etisalat completed a rebranding exercise, for which it used UK branding and design firm Rareform London.

In July, Etisalat headed a consortium that won the rights to develop Egypt's third mobile phone network. Nile Telecom will compete in the country against Vodafone and Mobinil.

Collective director Simon Jones ­reports to Etisalat corporate communications manager Ahmed Bin Ali.

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