Saudi telcos boycotted over high prices, bad service

An economist has claimed that the boycott is expected to cause the region millions in losses

Tags: Saudi Arabia
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Saudi telcos boycotted over high prices, bad service Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) has stopped selling unlimited data packages, while Mobily and Zain are reportedly continuing to sell the packages. (Getty Images)
By  Staff Writer Published  October 5, 2016

Saudi Arabian telecoms firms are reportedly being boycotted by customers protesting high prices and poor service.

The boycott is expected to cause losses totalling in the region of SR50 million ($13.3 million), an unnamed economist claimed, according to Arab News.

The campaign started on Sunday night and involves customers turning off their phones for three hours every day.

It is the first of its kind in the kingdom, the newspaper said, and comes after the Communications and Information Technology Commission announced it would stop selling unlimited internet cards at the end of September and prevent service operators from doing so, too.

Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) has stopped selling unlimited data packages, while Mobily and Zain are reportedly continuing to sell the packages.

The decision does not apply to post-paid mobile packages nor internet services linked to fixed phone lines, a report in Arab News said last month.

Angry customers have taken to social media in the past week to vent their disappointment and thousands have unfollowed telcos' Facebook and Twitter accounts in an attempt to pressurise them to reduce prices.

Saudi Gazette reported on Wednesday that telcos have remained silent on the boycott - despite local economist Fadal Bou Al Ainain claiming they would lose more than SR50 million if the boycott were to continue for more than a month.

"The boycott campaign will force Saudi telecommunication firms to review their prices and quality of services," he was quoted as saying.

"There are no other options to avoid huge losses. Organisers of the boycott campaign succeeded in using the social networking websites to encourage users to join the campaign."

The whole telecoms industry in Suadi Arabia is preparing for a massive shake-up under government plans to increase competition. This week, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) announced plans to offer telcos operators with single "unified licences" allowing them to offer a full range of telecoms services. Previously, operators had to apply for separate licences to offer services such as mobile and fixed-line.

On Monday shares in STC tumbled by as much as 8.5% on fears it could lose market share as a result of the changes.

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