Gulf telcos pledge to cut cost of roaming charges

Etisalat, Zain, Ooredoo and Saudi Telecom Co among key players committed to addressing pricing, says GSMA
Gulf telcos pledge to cut cost of roaming charges
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 30 May 2014 01:40 AM

The GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, has announced that senior leaders from nine telcos serving the Middle East, have committed to cutting the cost of roaming charges in the region.

The telecom operators, which account for over half a billion mobile connections across 48 countries in the Middle East and Africa, are undertaking initiatives designed to reduce the cost for consumers, the GSMA said in a statement.

Companies making the pledge included UAE-based Etisalat, Kuwait's Zain, Qatar's Ooredoo, Saudi Telecom Company, Orange, the MTN Group, Bharti Airtel, Millicom and Vodafone.

GSMA research has shown emerging markets, including many countries in the Middle East, are now the major engines of mobile connection and subscriber growth.

"The nine operator groups are committed to a range of roaming initiatives that, in addition to addressing pricing, will improve regional connectivity and mobility by increasing roaming footprints to provide greater customer choice, with a particular focus on improving routes for pre-paid customers," the statement added.

The GSMA said these combined efforts will enable consumers in the Middle East to use their mobile phones with greater confidence and predictability whilst travelling.

"International and regional mobility is a critical factor in increasing trade and cross-border economic cooperation, which is a government priority across Africa and the Middle East," said Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA.

"The initiatives of these nine operators are intended to serve to increase connectivity and make mobile more affordable for subscribers throughout these regions, encouraging greater adoption and usage of mobile services and enabling important socio-economic benefits."

As part of their work, the operators will look at a range of factors that affect roaming prices, with the aim of improving technical efficiencies and reducing costs, she added.

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