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Wed 1 Jun 2016 12:50 PM

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UAE telecoms regulator clamps down on data 'bill shock'

TRA orders Etisalat and Du to cap mobile data bundle charging to prevent consumers from unknowingly running up huge bills

UAE telecoms regulator clamps down on data 'bill shock'

The UAE’s telecoms regulator has ordered the country’s two operators to cap their mobile data bundles in an attempt to prevent consumers from unwittingly running up huge bills.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that a new directive forbids either Etisalat or Du from supplying any further mobile data once a bundle has been exhausted unless the consumer gives their express consent.

“We are concerned with the potential for consumers to receive larger-than-expected charges for their out-of-bundle mobile data usage,” said Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, the TRA’s director general, in a press statement.

“We acknowledge that both Etisalat and du have provided various tools to enable their customers to monitor their data usage and manage their costs.  However, we note that not all consumers use such tools.  It is also inherently difficult to estimate how much data is actually being consumed while, for example, browsing the internet or sending e-mails.

“Consumers may not be aware of the actual costs associated with such mobile data usage and this could lead to ‘bill shock.’ We aim to address the issue once and for all through this new directive.”

The TRA said that current practices employed by both local telcos, which generally involve higher charges for extra data once the standard bundle data had been used up, were “somewhat unfair to consumers”.

The new directive forbids Etisalat and Du from supplying additional data to consumers unless users subscribe to another data bundle, opt in to be charged at the ‘over-bundle’ rate, or specifically instruct the operator to remove the cap.

The TRA also said that it had “urged Etisalat and du to design and introduce pricing plans that are more fair to the consumer by charging lower rates for over bundle data than the rates charged for no bundle data”.

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