The UAE’s telecommunications authority said that long-delayed plans for mobile phone number portability would be introduced by December this year.
When effective, the change will allow customers to switch between the Gulf state’s two network operators while retaining their phone number.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement on Monday that Etisalat and smaller competitor du had already made the technical adjustments required to enable phone number portability.
“Mobile number portability will immediately increase competition in the UAE’s ICT market, expedite the switching process, and do so in a way that directly benefits the consumer,” said Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, TRA director general.
The TRA initially aimed to introduce mobile phone number portability back in mid-2008, but it and the country’s operators have missed numerous deadlines in the years since.
In July this year, Etisalat and du failed to agree on a deal that would allow them to compete on fixed line services after more than four years of negotiations.
The providers, which are both majority owned by government entities, offer fixed-line, broadband and television packages, but in different territories within the UAE.
According to the TRA, mobile phone penetration in the UAE is one of the highest in the world, at over 200 percent.