By Rob Corder
Saudi Telecommunications Company is slashing the price of international phone calls and reducing the subscription fee for new mobile phone lines.
Saudi Telecommunications Company is slashing international call rates from March 26, according to sources quoted in the Arab News daily.
The greatest reductions will be to countries East of Saudi Arabia including the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand where prices will be cut by as much as 31%. Calls to the Philippines, for example, will drop from SR7 to SR5.5 per minute.
Calls to other GCC countries will be reduced from SR3 to SR2.6 per minute.
While industry watchers welcomed the tariff reductions, they said that far more had to be done to create the types of competitive call packages available in the West. British Telecom, for example, charges a maximum of SR2.9 per minute for a call from the UK to Australia, and offers off-peak special deals that can reduce the per minute charge to only SR0.5.
Calls into Saudi Arabia also remain high, largely due to the termination fees that STC charges international operators for receiving incoming calls. A BT call from the UK into Saudi Arabia, for example, costs SR4.9 per minute at peak time and a minimum of SR2.5 with an off-peak competitive package.
STC is becoming more creative with special deals. The recently launched Family mobiles and Student mobiles, which give customers special rates in return for limiting the number of people they can call, have proved successful. A reduction in the connection fee for Family mobiles from SR500 to SR400 is expected to further increase demand. That reduction coincides with a reduction in the standard mobile phone connection charge from SR1500 to SR800.
STC is also cutting the rate of mobile phone calls on March 11 from SR1.2 to SR0.95 at peak times, and from SR1.0 to SR0.5 for off-peak.
New subscription packages are being launched at the same time including a fixed SR200 fee for 250 minutes of talktime in a month, and SR100 for 70 minutes of talktime.
All changes have been approved by Finance and National Economy Minister, Ibrahim Al-Assaf, and acting Minister of PTT, Khaled Al-Gosaibi.