Saudis spend average 30% of income on phone, internet bills

Consumer Protection Agency says some Saudis are spending up to 50-70% of their income on bills

Saudis spend an average 30 percent of their income on phone and internet bills, according to the Consumer Protection Agency.

The most prolific users spend 50-70 percent of their money on communication services, the agency added, according to local media.

The figures were released as the CPA announced it would begin rating telecommunications providers and publishing consumption rates each quarter to help the public monitor the sector.

CPA head Nasir Al Tuwaim said Saudis’ high usage could put them at risk of adverse economic and health effects.

He claimed the expensive bills were partly due to high call prices. The kingdom has some of the world’s highest rates, at SR0.35 ($0.08) per minute compared to SR0.07 internationally, Arab News quoted him as saying.

Some Saudi users also were not properly informed about telecom charges such as international roaming fees.

In a conservative kingdom where freedom of speech is often prohibited, the internet, and particularly social media websites, has become a popular avenue for Saudis to express themselves, making them one of the most prolific users of the internet in the Arab world.

Dozens of activists have been arrested for comments published on sites such as Twitter and YouTube.

The internet also is a source for Saudis to obtain international movies, which are banned in the kingdom.

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