Etisalat and Du hit back on call charge criticism

TRA poll reveals widespread dissatisfaction with international calling rates

Tags: Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company Etisalat International - UAEUnited Arab Emirates
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Etisalat and Du hit back on call charge criticism An annual poll, fronted by the UAE’s (TRA, revealed 48% of mobile phone users were unhappy with overseas call costs.
By  Ed Attwood Published  January 26, 2011

Both of the UAE's telecoms providers have defended the prices for international calls following a national survey that revealed widespread consumer dissatisfaction with high prices.

An annual poll, fronted by the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), revealed 48% of mobile phone users were unhappy with overseas call costs.

Among fixed-line users, 42% said international call costs were too high.

Etisalat and Du, however, argue that their call charges are as competitive as any in the Gulf region.

Former incumbent Etisalat said its calling plans offer value to foreign labourers calling home.

“A vast customer base from labour communities in the UAE seek highly affordable call rates for calling their friends and families back home. For them, Etisalat regularly introduces promotions that offer discounted rates,” an Etisalat spokesperson told Arabian Business.

The company refused to say whether it would lower its fees this year, instead saying that it would continue to evaluate charges in the normal way.

Rival Du pointed out that international call rates had fallen in the UAE in recent years.

“Since launch, we have focused on presenting competitive telecom offers and services. The last few years have seen a decline in the tariff of international calling rates and this holds true for the UAE as well,” a Du spokesperson said. “We believe the calling rates in the UAE today are competitive as compared to the rest of the GCC region.”

In Qatar, the introduction of second mobile operator Vodafone Qatar has resulted in the cost of international calls being cut in half in just over a year of operations.

In Bahrain, the regulator actually ordered Batelco to raise its international call rates in August last year, after accusations that the former incumbent was pricing competitors out of the market.

The TRA survey showed that the cost of international calls was so high that a significant number of users asked people from other countries to call them instead of the other way round.

The figures stand in stark contrast to a generally favourable assessment of the UAE’s telecoms services, according to the survey.

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