Gulf telecoms operators to slash roaming rates by 50%

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
Mobile phone operators have opposed the planned cut in roaming charges

Mobile phone operators have opposed the planned cut in roaming charges

Gulf telecoms operators are due to slash mobile phone roaming charges to consumers by at least 50 percent from Feb 1, an official of the Gulf Cooperation Council said Monday.

Telecoms operators attending a meeting in Riyadh earlier this month committed themselves to lower retail prices, Abdullah al-Shibli, GCC assistant secretary general for economic affairs, said in a statement.

The statement did not give details of the new rates but said the decision would “reduce rates of international roaming between the GCC countries by more than 50 percent from current prices".

The names of the telecoms operators impacted by the ruling were not released.

Gulf telecom regulators have long campaigned for a reduction in roaming charges in a bid to bring costs in line with those seen in developed markets.

Analysts said authorities had previously tried to implement a MENA-wide rate reduction scheme, but this had failed in the face of diverging regional agendas.

“About three or four years ago there was an attempt to regulate roaming tariffs at an Arab world level,” said Matthew Reed, a telecoms analyst with consultancy Informa. “This was inspired by the EU, where there has been various interventions on roaming. But although the plan was endorsed, it was no enforced. There wasn’t the political will.”

The GCC cuts, led by Bahrain’s mobile phone regulator, were regarded as the next best option, he said. To date, two cuts have been agreed, despite opposition from phone operators who are facing declining profits in their domestic markets.

“The operators are actually not very happy about this,” said Reed. “They have been trying to lobby against it. Regulators try and persuade operators by saying that when cuts are introduced the usage will go up, but operators argue that the revenues are important to help them invest, and that usage doesn’t go up with lower rates.

“There is a bit of a battle going on between the regulators and the operators.”

*With agencies

Related:
Topics
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Paul

Last summer for the first time I used my STC SIM-card while raoming in Hong-Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia. They have deals with many operators that make receiving calls free, and even local call not too expensive. As for data, for a small fee (SR 300-400) you can get unlimited data, which is not very cheap, but still much better then what European provides offer...

Posted by: Adel Darwish

It is worth mentioning that the rate reductions are only for international (voice) calls made while roaming and does not include data services at this stage. This is a first milestone accomplishment of the Roaming Working Group and we hope to see more coming.

It is important that people's perceptions are managed well in order to avoid being surprised at a later stage or having some sort of a "Bill Shock".

Posted by: Budaiya Calling

It?s a question of scale and vision in my opinion. The more consolidation we see by businesses in the GCC the greater the cost savings and potentially better value provided to the consumer. It is time that regulation lead the way to greater business innovation/restructuring in the region as it seems that business leaders are either unwilling or are too short sighted to see the greater needs going forward. To achieve and maintain growth one needs to learn from both the mistakes and successes of the industrialized nations.

Posted by: Geg

In true short sighted telco fashion and lack of abstract innovation, none will implement before the other. And then they have to get inter-agreement.
The fact is, almost all travelers switch off 'data' and get a local chip and use an abundance of local Wifis. So to have ridiculously higher rates, as now to compensate a thin home market is self destructive.
Now, traveling around Europe with say a UK phone, few bother to go for a local chip, because the cost of roaming calls are 'cheaper' than local calls in some of the GCC countries, so the home telco makes volume.

Posted by: Rocket

Light years is a distance unit of measure..

Someone had to say it

Posted by: Business Man

Agreed. Who would use Etisalat or Du roaming these days? Everyone I know gets local sim when travelling. They are light years behind here due to lack of competition. It is not doing anybody any good.

Posted by: mary karadsheh

I agree that it is the time for slashing roaming rates
and the usage may not be very sensitive/elastic to price especaily in roaming.

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
The politics of big data

The politics of big data

The UAE may be one of the fastest adopters of e-government initiatives...

Gateway to a new era

Gateway to a new era

Could Telr be the answer to start-ups’ prayers? The new three...

7 of the best accounting apps

7 of the best accounting apps

Tamara Pupic tracks down some of the best accounting apps on...

1
Most Discussed
  • 16
    Baby NOT on board?

    The people commenting here were all 20 years old when they were born, never cried, never screamed and never ran etc etc.
    more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 8:30 AM - Amer
  • 2
    European court backs French ban on full-faced veil

    well said John Harte, it is the total opposition to freedom of expression, it degrades and dehumanizes women into objects that need to be wrapped up and... more

    Friday, 22 August 2014 6:38 PM - Polly Nicoll
  • 1
    Damac says first Akoya Oxygen homes sell out 'in record time'

    You have to be desperate to buy anything from Damac and that in the furthest farthest outposts of Dubai Land. Stay near the main Drag the SZR! more

    Saturday, 23 August 2014 1:29 AM - Special K
  • 23
    World's most pierced man refused entry to the UAE

    Tolerance has its limits everywhere including Dubai and those who considered Dubai a lawless circus were held accountable...so thank you Dubai authorities... more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 10:51 PM - Khalil
  • 17
    UK looks to close tax loophole on expat landlords

    UK taxes too much and too complicated and time taking and confusing and continuous. Returns, lawyers, HMRC, taxes too much for too little. Not worth the... more

    Sunday, 17 August 2014 12:40 PM - AbdolRahman
  • 16
    Baby NOT on board?

    The people commenting here were all 20 years old when they were born, never cried, never screamed and never ran etc etc.
    more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 8:30 AM - Amer