The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) is building the core ICT regulatory framework for the UAE’s burgeoning knowledge economy. In particular, the TRA supports the UAE’s ICT sector by safeguarding competition to protect the interests of subscribers, enhancing the readiness of e-services, encouraging investment, innovation and development, whilst facilitating a broader ecosystem for human capital development.
The TRA regulates the sector according to the provisions of the telecommunications law and the TRA’s regulatory framework. Of direct relevance to this topic is the TRA’s Regulatory Policy governing Marketing Communications and Practices, which became effective on 1 February 2008. Clearly the policy has been in effect for some time and its provisions are well known to the licensees. The policy is published on the TRA’s website, thus the policy can be read by all stakeholders including licensees and consumers.
It is public knowledge that the TRA has instructed the licensees- Etisalat and du to be technically and commercially ready to launch the MNP service on 22 December 2013. Both licensees have declared their readiness to the TRA, and the TRA announced the licensees readiness to launch the MNP service by Dec 30, 2013. That service is intended to promote further competition in mobile communications in the UAE and it will enable consumers to switch between licensees whilst retaining their mobile numbers.
The TRA notes that each of Etisalat and du has embraced the TRA instructions and each has commenced a respective media campaign to promote awareness in consumers of the advent of MNP in the UAE. The TRA is generally pleased to see that both licensees are preparing themselves for the launch of MNP and that each is conducting separate media campaigns. Those media campaigns are complex and involve different marketing communications delivered by different media including newspaper advertisements, press statements, web pages, SMS marketing and video clips.
The TRA expects a healthy amount of competition between the licensees and the TRA expects such competition between the licensees to extend to their media campaigns. However, the TRA requires each licensee to conduct their respective campaigns in accordance with the provisions of the TRA’s regulatory framework.
Article 1.1 of the Marketing and Communications Practices policy provides: the purpose of this policy is to protect consumers from misleading, confusing, deceptive or otherwise inappropriate marketing communications and practices by telecommunications Licensees.
During the last few weeks the TRA has found it necessary to intervene and instruct each of Etisalat and du to remove certain material from their respective campaigns. The TRA took those actions as the TRA considered certain material (published by each licensee) to be in violation of the regulatory framework.
Both licensees have complied with the TRA’s instructions and respectively removed inappropriate marketing communications.
The TRA will continue to monitor the campaigns and will intervene again if necessary to protect consumers from inappropriate marketing material. However, the TRA notes that it is the responsibility of the licensees to comply with the provisions of the regulatory framework. Accordingly, the TRA urges each of Etisalat and du to continue their respective campaigns responsibly.