By Ed Attwood
UAE operators say overseas call costs rival any on offer in the GCC
Both of the UAE's telecoms providers have defended the prices for international calls following a national survey that revealed widespread consumer dissatisfaction with high prices.
An annual poll, fronted by the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), revealed 48 percent of mobile phone users were unhappy with overseas call costs.
Among fixed-line users, 42 percent said international call costs were too high.
Etisalat and du, however, argue that their call charges are as competitive as any in the Gulf region.
Former incumbent Etisalat said its calling plans offer value to foreign labourers calling home.
“A vast customer base from labour communities in the UAE seek highly affordable call rates for calling their friends and families back home. For them, Etisalat regularly introduces promotions that offer discounted rates,” an Etisalat spokesperson told Arabian Business.
The company refused to say whether it would lower its fees this year, instead saying that it would continue to evaluate charges in the normal way.
Rival Du pointed out that international call rates had fallen in the UAE in recent years.
“Since launch, we have focused on presenting competitive telecom offers and services. The last few years have seen a decline in the tariff of international calling rates and this holds true for the UAE as well,” a du spokesperson said. “We believe the calling rates in the UAE today are competitive as compared to the rest of the GCC region.”
In Qatar, the introduction of second mobile operator Vodafone Qatar has resulted in the cost of international calls being cut in half in just over a year of operations.
In Bahrain, the regulator actually ordered Batelco to raise its international call rates in August last year, after accusations that the former incumbent was pricing competitors out of the market.
The TRA survey showed that the cost of international calls was so high that a significant number of users asked people from other countries to call them instead of the other way round.
The figures stand in stark contrast to a generally favourable assessment of the UAE’s telecoms services, according to the survey.
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When survey results are generated, the parties in question do not defend their stance rather take the feedback and provide solutions for areas of improvement or provide some meaningful arguments for their decisions.
Just outright stating defense defeats the purpose of having a survey done in the first place.
Gas in UAE is most expensive compared to other GCC states and I wouldn't be surprised if call rates are too.
Besides the high costs of international calls, all services that these two company provide are all over priced, not to mention easy of service, bill paying and customer service are all below standard!
I've lived in many emerging (developing) country's and the UAE by far has the most closed and protected telecommunication market, (they wont even allow VOIP).
I'm always SMS friends and family to call me here because of the outrages price per-min, and no real international calling card on the market makes it especially hard to stay in contact with people from the UAE.
Major reform is need in this market! If a country like Bahrain poulation 1.1million can have 3 Telecommunication players and VOIP why not the UAE.
Stop the protectionism and duopoly please.
Etisalat offer very poor customer service, either by calling them or going to AD Head Office (average waiting time is 1 hour). I have a payment issue since June 2010 and nobody is willing to give an answer after several reminder. I applied twice to a promotional offer (50 fils per minute on international rate) and at the end they charge me full price.
So if anybody from Etisalat want to contact me, I am available and will be happy to post another comment after getting an answer from you.
And don't overlook roaming charges. It is now 10 AED a minute to call the UAE when abroad, and 4 AED to receive a call.
Not to mention 2 AED to send a SMS
Unfortunately it is true, we all know we pay prices that are the highest in the world for the service...and the service is not at good standards at all, it is quite average and we all know they need to make huge changes to improve it. Customer service is just a joke from both companies. I tried to get services offered for one of these companies and I am still waiting, a long wait. I am trying to make business here and communications are very important for this. It has been a big frustration dealing with them.
Unprofessional service at service center e.g ( I was in one of service center and was waiting in Que for almost 10minutes...staff was chatting wz other colleauge and keeping customer waiting).......
let Du and Etisaat stick on to their tariffs. 99% people are using VOIP services anyway.
Necessity is the mother of invention......
i heard lots of cases where new Al Shamil connection is refused by Etisalat to promote Elife. Elife charges are ridiculously high. Why are customers not given a choice? Why are they forced to buy what they do not need at all? A friend of mine got a very high bill on his Elife and is trying for ages to find how it actually happened? All this with pathetic service and sky high charges are the signs of the monoply set up..
I agree with all the below posts and also suffer from extremely high telephone bills. Because of the make up of the UAE population and the positioning of businesses as regional hubs, international call rates will always be a contentious issue.
However, let's look at things from the vendor's viewpoint. I'm guessing mobile phone penetration is close to or even above 100%. Therefore lowering call costs will not generate higher revenues or profits.
So where is the incentive for Etisalat or DU? The push must come from Government. As a small business owner, high communication costs can act as a major deterrence in setting up here.
Lower call costs, resulting in lower operational costs, will only encourage SMEs to set up in the UAE.