The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the most sophisticated information infrastructures in the developing world today. And the country is spending billions to procure and then maintain a strong competitive edge.
The country boasts an Internet bandwidth in excess of 5.1 Gigabits per a... second (Gbps) as of early 2006 for population that is less than 5 million; its Internet and mobile-phone penetration rates have touched 40.09 percent and 96.48 percent by the end of 2005, respectively; and it hosts one of the world's biggest locations for a commercial IP telephony network in a single site. These achievements become especially meaningful when one considers that the country's incumbent telecom provider, state-backed Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), is only 30 years old, and that until a year ago, it was the only national telecommunications provider controlling both voice and data communication networks in the country.
Despite a monopoly environment, the country has also been able to offer the most affordable consumer Internet access among its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) peers in the past few years. Etisalat's legal monopoly came to an end in 2003 with the issuance of Federal Law no. 3 organizing the country's telecommunications sector. The law established the Supreme Committee for the Supervision of the Telecommunications Sector. The Supreme Committee was granted authority to devise and oversee the general policy for the country's telecommunications sector, with authority to issue licenses and determine fees. In September 2005, Federal Law no. 95 was issued, reorganizing the Supreme Committee and giving it new authorities to supervise the telecommunications sector.
The current licensed UAE telecommunications providers are Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (Etisalat) www.etisalat.ae and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (Du) www.du.ae. Moreover, Thuraya Satellite Telecommunication Company (Thuraya), a satellite...