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Telecommunications across all platforms in the UAE are fast and effective with fixed-line, internet and mobile connectivity amongst the best in the world. The 2007 Global Information Technology Report (GITR), commissioned by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in cooperation with Insead business school, puts the UAE at the top of the ‘Net-worked Readiness Index’ in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and ranks the UAE in twenty-ninth position worldwide out of 122 countries, beating many European nations.
The UAE’s high-ranking is directly related to the growing emphasis that the country has been placing on the role of ICT for development in recent years with the launch of a number of ICT initiatives and the promotion of ICT penetration and usage.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), established by Federal Decree No. 3 of 2003, is tasked with the challenge of operating a regulatory framework to facilitate competition in the UAE’s telecoms market, at the same time enhancing, promoting and ensuring quality of services. The TRA, governed by a Board of Directors, answers to the Supreme Committee for the Supervision of the Telecommunications Sector (SCTS), which is empowered to establish and oversee the UAE National Telecom Policy.
Since its establishment, the TRA has become an active member of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has chaired its seventh Global Symposium for Regulators hosted by TRA from 5 to 7 February 2007, at Dubai World Trade Centre; and it has become the President of the Arab Telecommunications Authorities Union for the year 2007.
Prior to the establishment of the TRA, Etisalat, which was formed in 1976, was the sole telecoms operator in the country. The new regulatory body has already facilitated the launch of du, an integrated telecommunications provider, into the market. Under the powers conferred on it by federal law, the TRA has now licensed Etisalat and du, and the latter was formally activated on 12 February 2007. Since population growth targets are set to hit 5 million by 2010, the launch of a third telecoms provider in the Emirates is inevitable.