Lower GCC roaming prices for voice, SMS and mobile data are applied effective April 2016

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    In the framework of joint cooperation between the GCC countries, the Ministerial Committee for Post, Telecommunications and Information Technology adopted GCC roaming price caps at its 24th meeting which was held in Doha in early June 2015. The Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications has issued a ministerial decision (Decision 9 of 2015) in this regard which was published in the Official Gazette, Issue 3238.

    In a related context, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the Kingdom of Bahrain announced that roaming users in Bahrain will be able to benefit soon from lower GCC roaming prices for voice, SMS and mobile data, which will be applied effective 1 April 2016.

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    On this occasion, the General Director of TRA Mr. Mohamed Bin Hamad Bubashait stated that “The GCC Roaming Working Group conducted in collaboration with the GCC telecommunications ministries and regulators, a lengthy study and consultation with the operators in all the GCC countries during the past two years, based on which it was agreed to reduce GCC roaming prices.”

    The new roaming prices will be applied in two phases, where the new wholesale prices will be applied to the operators effective 1 January 2016 and the retail prices (the actual application on consumers’ bills) effective 1 April 2016.

    Mr. Bubashait also added that “The application of lower wholesale and retail prices does not stop at this point, but will be gradually over a period of three years for voice and SMS, and five years for mobile data.”

    The Chairman of the Roaming working Group, MR Adel Darwish – Manager of Market and Competition at TRA Bahrain commented on this saying that the adopted roaming price caps were set based on the recommendations of the GCC Roaming Working Group which consists of representatives from the GCC regulators. The Working Group conducted an extensive study on roaming prices and its results were circulated to the stakeholders and the public through the public consultation document which was published in the TRA’s website in September 2014.

    The Table below displays the retail price caps for voice, SMS mobile data which will take effect on 1 April 2016.

    Adopted caps effective 1 April 2016

    Adopted caps for the following roaming services

    0.098

    Local outgoing calls while roaming in GCC (minute)

    0.241

    International outgoing calls to any GCC country while roaming in GCC (minute)

    0.132

    Received calls while roaming in GCC (minute)

    0.030

    SMSs (per SMS)

    0.489

    Data services (per Mbit)

    The prices shown above are the maximum price caps and that operators has the freedom to compete among themselves and set lower prices than these regulated caps with providing  different and competitive offers to roaming users.

    These lower prices come in continuation of cooperation between the GCC regulators under the supervision of the GCC Secretariat-General. The first regulatory roaming framework only covered outgoing calls while roaming which was issued in June 2010 and implemented over a period of two years until it was fully implemented in February 2012.

    About TRA

    Since its establishment in 2002, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the Kingdom of Bahrain has been working with government, consumers, operators and investors to develop the country into the region’s most modern communications hub and to facilitate the growth of the market. As an exemplary Regulator for the region, TRA Bahrain independently carries out its duties in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner. More information about TRA can be viewed at www.tra.org.bh.