By David Ingham
The Council of Ministers criticises high internet charges, but does not elaborate on who it considers responsible for bringing them down.
The debate over Saudi Arabia’s internet pricing policy has now reached cabinet level. The country’s Council of Ministers, at an October meeting, called for a reduction of the charges that end users pay. It also ordered a crackdown on internet services received through satellite dishes. "The meeting emphasised the need for expanding the bandwidth for Internet service and reducing the charges for Internet lines and the charges of end users to avert the use of alternative means," said Information Minister Dr Fouad Al Farsy, in a statement released to Saudi Press Agency. Companies and individuals will be given a formal warning against using satellite dishes for Internet services before punitive action is taken. "If they continue to use satellite dishes, STA and KACST will take deterrent actions including withdrawal of licenses," said Al Farsy.The cabinet did not elaborate on who it considers responsible for reducing internet charges. ISPs have long complained that they have little control over pricing because they pass most of their revenue on to KACST and STC in the form of infrastructure charges. STC has always retorted that there are too many ISPs and that they are inefficient.