Etisalat to spend on infrastructure

An Emirati client walks out an Etisalat Telecom provider office in Dubai. (FILE)

UAE telecom operator Etisalat will spend up to 3 billion dirhams ($817 million) annually for the next five years on UAE infrastructure, its acting CEO said on Monday.

The former monopoly, also known as Emirates Telecommunications Corp, said it will spend on technology for 2G, 3G and 4G networks as well as for IT systems and mobile towers.

"We will spend about two to three billion dirhams annually on the network in the UAE for up to five years," Nasser Bin Obood, acting chief executive of Etisalat, told reporters at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

He said the company has sufficient cash reserves for these expansion plans and will not look at funding options.

Obood said the company will look to sign an infrastructure-sharing agreement with rival operator du by the end of the year.

Etisalat pays 50 percent of its earnings as royalties to the government and Obood said the issue has been under discussion for a certain time.

"It adds pressure. However, the issue is being looked at and we are sure that the government and all the stakeholders will come up with a reasonable plan."

In March, Etisalat withdrew plans to bid for Syria's third mobile licence, saying the terms did not offer sufficient value for shareholders, and it has scrapped a $12 billion takeover of Kuwait's Zain.

Etisalat had 7.43 million UAE mobile subscribers, 1.13 million fixed line subscribers and 0.49 million internet subscribers at the end of March.

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