Feature Article

November 27, 2012

Failure to Comply with Orders Bans Mobily's SIM Cards Sales

According to a company spokesman, Saudi Arabia's second-biggest telecoms operator, Etihad Etisalat Co., after being suspended from selling pre-paid SIM cards, has asked to meet the industry regulator. In a statement, the firm said that until the company fully meets the pre-paid service provisioning requirements, Mobily's sales of pre-paid or pay-as-you-go SIM cards will remain halted.

"We're not sure when we can resume selling pre-paid SIM cards. We've requested a meeting with the CITC governor today to find out what's going on," said a company spokesman.

Image via Shutterstock

The Communication and Information Technology Commission, in an earlier order stated that, effective September 28th; a personal identification number must be entered by all pre-paid SIM users when recharging their accounts. This number must be the same as the one registered with their mobile operator when the SIM card was bought.

Mobily’s spokesman stated that this also applies to rival operators Saudi Telecom Co (STC) and Zain Saudi, not only to Mobily. The astonishment is the result of being singled out despite it not being the only company that hasn’t complied with the order. Mobily has done a huge campaign to inform its customers about the ID requirement. Since not all its customers have updated their details, the company has yet to comply with the order.

Mobily stated that the financial impact of the CITC's decision would be "insignificant", claiming data, corporate and "post-paid" contract revenue would be its main growth drivers. Asim Bukhtiar, Riyad Capital's head of research mentioned that depending on how quickly the company resolves this, it could have a significant impact on Mobily's Q4 earnings.

The new SIM registration requirements are a security measure. Among middle and lower income groups, pre-paid mobile subscriptions are typically more popular especially with telecom operators pushing customers to shift to monthly contracts that include a data allowance.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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