Saudi regulator suspends Mobily from selling SIM cards

Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:29am EST
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By Matt Smith

(Reuters) - Etihad Etisalat Co (Mobily), Saudi Arabia's second-biggest telecoms operator, has asked to meet the industry regulator after it was suspended from selling pre-paid SIM cards, a company spokesman said, describing the ban as "astonishing".

Mobily's sales of pre-paid, or pay-as-you-go SIM cards will remain halted until the company "fully meets the pre-paid service provisioning requirements," the firm said in a statement.

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

In an earlier order the Communication and Information Technology Commission said that from September 28 all pre-paid SIM users must enter a personal identification number when recharging their accounts and this number must be the same as the one registered with their mobile operator when the SIM card was bought.

This applies not only to Mobily but also to rival operators Saudi Telecom Co (STC) and Zain Saudi.

"This isn't just about Mobily - other operators also haven't complied and so we're astonished we've been singled out," said Mobily's spokesman. "We've done a huge campaign to inform customers about the ID requirement."

The company has yet to comply with the order because not all customers have updated their details, he said.

Mobily said the financial impact of the CITC's decision would be "insignificant", claiming data, corporate and "post-paid" contract revenues would be its main growth drivers.   Continued...