Etisalat to unveil prepaid plans for iPhone - UAE

The telecom company claims it's 'difficult' to directly compare prices in Saudi and UAE. 
By Soren Billing
Sun 01 Mar 2009 01:26 PM

Etisalat is to unveil prepaid plans for iPhone users in the UAE in the near future, the company revealed on Sunday.

“Etisalat will announce prepaid plans for the customers in the near future. However, as of now prepaid customers can also benefit from the free postpaid SIM card on purchase of every package and activate their iPhone,” a spokesperson said.

The country’s largest telecom operator also responded to criticism from Arabian Business readers over the difference in pricing of iPhone packages in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where Etisalat last month launched the Apple handset through its subsidiary, Mobily.

“Saudi Arabia and UAE are distinctly different markets in terms of size, iPhone projected penetration and pricing regulations. Hence, it is difficult to compare iPhone prices in these two countries,” the spokesperson said.

“Furthermore, pricing packages in UAE are decided in conjunction with the TRA (the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) and Etisalat [only has] limited control on the final pricing,” he added.

The monthly fee for a 16 GB iPhone 3G starts at SAR99 ($26.4) in Saudi Arabia and includes 75 minutes of talk time, 75 free text messages and 200 MB of data.

The handset then costs SAR2,650 ($706.6) to buy.

Etisalat’s price plans for the iPhone in the UAE start at AED199 ($54.2) per month, which includes 125 minutes of talk time, 125 free text messages and 500 MB of data. The phone then costs AED3,090 ($841.3) to buy.

“The elements of the package and the benefits being offered along with it are also as important as the base price,” the Etisalat spokesperson said.

“For instance, Etisalat is providing a higher data download bandwidth option for all the packages, considering that the iPhone users will require high bandwidth applications such as music and videos, that can be best utilized on Etisalat's advanced 3.5G network that covers 99 percent of the populated areas in the UAE,” the spokesperson added.

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