Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), the United Arab Emirates’ incumbent telecoms operator, has slashed the price of its basic broadband packages in the face of increasing competition from sole rival Du. The National cites Rashid Majid Al Abbar, Etisalat’s vice president of home products marketing, as saying that the company has reduced the price of its 1Mbps internet package, which includes a fixed telephony line, from AED259 (USD70.5) per month to AED189, with the aim of enticing users away from slower 256kbps and 512kbps connections. ‘That is the long-term strategy… We want to have more high speed customers,’ Mr Al Abbar said. Etisalat is also studying the possibility of reducing landline rates by between 10% and 30% for local calls, as well as international calls to ‘specific destinations.’ The move could be implemented in the second half of the year, the Etisalat executive said, but first requires the approval of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). The regulator is currently gearing up for the commercial introduction of bitstream access later this year, following a trial service with selected customers launched in July 2011. The introduction of bitstream access will break the monopolies held by Etisalat and Du within their respective areas by enabling consumers nationwide to choose between the two providers for their fixed line voice and broadband services.