Regulator refutes Etisalat claim on iPhone prices
EXCLUSIVE: The UAE's TRA says it is not responsible for high cost of owning new phone.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on Thursday hit back at phone operator Etisalat’s claims that the agency was responsible for the high price of the iPhone in the UAE.
The regulator said that Etisalat is permitted to sell the iPhone for any amount that was not below the cost price, meaning the price Etisalat pays Apple for the handsets.
“The TRA does not interfere in the deals or agreements done by any of the licensed telecoms operators with any third party, hence, the TRA is not aware of the details of the agreement between Etisalat and Apple,” director general HE Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim said.
Etisalat chief executive Mohammed Al Qamzi told a press conference last Wednesday that his company wanted to lower the price of some of its iPhone packages, if given permission by the TRA.
The company had repeatedly contacted the regulator for permission to lower the price of the iPhone and other promotions, but had yet to hear back from the regulator, he said.
Etisalat charges AED2,646 ($720) for the iPhone on a one year payment plan with a monthly cost of AED199 ($54).
That makes it significantly more expensive than in the UK, where O2, a subsidiary of Spain’s Telefonica, provides the handset free of charge on a monthly GBP45 ($65) payment plan.
In the US, AT&T charges $199 for the iPhone under a two year payment plan, where the monthly charge starts at $70 per month in the New York City area, in addition to a $36 activation fee.
The TRA also accused Etisalat of not submitting the wholesale cost of some of its products, making it difficult to monitor its pricing policies.
“It is notable that since 2006, the TRA has adhered to Etisalat to provide the cost prices of its services, to help us set-up the most appropriate price control standards. Yet, until now, Etisalat has not provided the TRA with this information,” Al Ghanim said.
Etisalat, one of the most expensive iPhone operators in the world, launched the iconic Apple handset in the UAE in February this year.
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