Etisalat to unveil prepaid plans for iPhone - UAE

The telecom company claims it's 'difficult' to directly compare prices in Saudi and UAE. 

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By  Soren Billing Published  March 1, 2009

Etisalat is to unveil prepaid plans for iPhone users in the UAE in the near future, the company revealed on Sunday.

“Etisalat will announce prepaid plans for the customers in the near future. However, as of now prepaid customers can also benefit from the free postpaid SIM card on purchase of every package and activate their iPhone,” a spokesperson said.

The country’s largest telecom operator also responded to criticism from Arabian Business readers over the difference in pricing of iPhone packages in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where Etisalat last month launched the Apple handset through its subsidiary, Mobily.

“Saudi Arabia and UAE are distinctly different markets in terms of size, iPhone projected penetration and pricing regulations. Hence, it is difficult to compare iPhone prices in these two countries,” the spokesperson said.

“Furthermore, pricing packages in UAE are decided in conjunction with the TRA (the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) and Etisalat [only has] limited control on the final pricing,” he added.

The monthly fee for a 16 GB iPhone 3G starts at SAR99 ($26.4) in Saudi Arabia and includes 75 minutes of talk time, 75 free text messages and 200 MB of data.

The handset then costs SAR2,650 ($706.6) to buy.

Etisalat’s price plans for the iPhone in the UAE start at AED199 ($54.2) per month, which includes 125 minutes of talk time, 125 free text messages and 500 MB of data. The phone then costs AED3,090 ($841.3) to buy.

“The elements of the package and the benefits being offered along with it are also as important as the base price,” the Etisalat spokesperson said.

“For instance, Etisalat is providing a higher data download bandwidth option for all the packages, considering that the iPhone users will require high bandwidth applications such as music and videos, that can be best utilized on Etisalat's advanced 3.5G network that covers 99 percent of the populated areas in the UAE,” the spokesperson added.

3732 days ago

You made one good point, INFLATION, and Etisalat is helping it reach new heights. And a MONOPOLY that allows exorbitant rates is not the same as standing as a winner of war and dictating the conditions.

3732 days ago

If you compare Etisalat prices for phones and internet to almost anywhere in the world you will see that they are far more expensive.

3733 days ago

SS, both the riyal and the dirham are pegged to the dollar. That means nothing is essentially lost in the exchange rate. Fine, 1 SAR isn't 1 AED. But it does mean that 3000 AED will always be 3059 SAR. Inflation is also rife in both the KSA and UAE - neither of which explains why the Saudi iPhone is dramatically cheaper than the UAE iPhone. There isn't a difference in operating cost and in all honesty you would expect the iPhone to be cheaper in Etisalat's home market given that they control all the infrastructure and could easily offset any operational costs. With respect to the 'rules' of unfair competition, the point I was making was that the TRA sets regulations which PREVENT unfair competition. These rules include pricing tariffs so that one tariff from one telco isn't substantially cheaper than a comparable one from another telco (which is ridiculous since it hurts consumers). The rules also state that no phone can be exclusively offered by one telco and not the other. Evidently the rules have been bent because the iPhone is not available on a Du tariff. A far fairer system would be to allow both telcos in the UAE to service the iPhone and for both telcos to independently set their tariffs. This would mean prices would come down for consumers, and more people would buy the product, generating more money for the telco. This is all basic Economics 101, but then again, what do you expect from a country that honestly believes people will pay more for rent here than they would in somewhere like London or New York.

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