Regulators in talks to cut GCC roaming charges

Telecom industry watchdogs to hold discussions in bid to reduce costs of mobile calls

Tags: Batelco Middle East CompanyEmirates Integrated Telecommunications Company RoamingSaudi Arabia
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Regulators in talks to cut GCC roaming charges Travelers in the region are often frustrated by high roaming charges.
By  Andy Sambidge Published  October 12, 2009

Telecom industry regulators in the GCC are set to meet in Riyadh for talks on driving down the cost of mobile roaming charges in the region.

A meeting to review roaming charges among the GCC States will be held at the GCC General Secretariat on Tuesday.

A team of regulators from all member states to review roaming charges which are considered by most mobile users to be too high.

According to a report by Qatar News Agency, the talks will "consider the necessary measures to reduce the charges for mobiles calls within the region".

The news will come as a boost to mobile phone customers in the GCC region who have been frustrated by costly roaming charges and a lack of awareness of those charges.

The talks also come at a time when a number of regional operators appear keen to adopt simpler and cheaper roaming tariffs.

UAE operator Du in June introduced a flat fee for all incoming calls for users roaming outside the UAE. Under the new roaming tariff, all of Du's prepaid and postpaid customers roaming abroad pay a flat rate of AED1.25 ($0.34) per minute for incoming calls.

Bahraini incumbent Batelco has also launched an expanded data roaming network covering all GCC states and a number of other countries in Middle East.

Batelco said its mobile postpaid customers would pay the local Bahrain rates for high speed data access while roaming in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen.

As with international calls, which remain expensive in much of the Middle East compared with international standards, roaming charges are a significant revenue driver for many operators.

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