Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

Saudi regulator fines operators in telecom crackdown

Mobily, a division of UAE operator Etisalat, receives the largest fine

A woman takes a selfie in Riyadh Park Mall, in Saudi Arabia. Mobile operators were fined in part for disregarding instructions in dealing with customer complaints.  EPA 
A woman takes a selfie in Riyadh Park Mall, in Saudi Arabia. Mobile operators were fined in part for disregarding instructions in dealing with customer complaints.  EPA 

The Saudi telecom regulator fined the country’s three main mobile operators in excess of 38 million riyals (Dh37m) in a new round of crackdown on market irregularities. The violations included the use of unlicenced frequencies, disregarding instructions in dealing with customer complaints and selling an undisclosed number of pre-paid cards without approval.

The three companies have had a strained relationship with the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), which is tasked with ensuring competition and encouraging investment in the sector. In December last year, the Saudi government reached a deal with the three companies – Mobily, Saudi Telecom and Zain Saudi – to settle old disputes and agreed on a new revenue sharing framework with the state. The deal was preceded by another round of fines in October.

All three companies declined to comment following the CITC fines.

The CITC said in a statement last week that the fines reflect its intent on safeguarding consumer rights. Mobily, a division of UAE operator Etisalat, received the largest fine at more than 17m riyals. Zain Saudi Arabia, a subsidiary of the Kuwaiti Zain group, was fined more than 11m riyals, while government-backed Saudi Telecom, the Kingdom’s largest operator, was fined more than 9m riyals. The fines were imposed after the companies had lost appeal procedures.

Shares of the three telecoms were trading flat on Sunday.

Updated: April 14, 2019 03:54 PM

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