SIM smuggling leads to ban on free roaming

SIM smuggling leads to ban on free roaming
Updated 22 March 2013

SIM smuggling leads to ban on free roaming

SIM smuggling leads to ban on free roaming

The decision of the Communications and Information Technology Commission to ban free roaming services on Saudi SIM cards is meant to stop the smuggling of a great many Saudi SIM cards to the various markets by expat workers, informed sources in the communications industry said.
“There are too many users among expat labor who benefit from the services in a way that can harm the communications industry. The volume of the services provided by the communications industry is about SR 100 billion. If no optimal use is made of these services to increase size and upgrade the industry, this will harm both the domestic market and the industry,” the sources said.
The sources estimate that during the past 5 years, around 2 million SIM cards had been taken outside Saudi Arabia by expat labor.
The suspension of free roaming service by Saudi mobile operators will not affect Saudi students studying on scholarships abroad.
Meanwhile, Intisar Al-Malih, an economic consultant, said the proliferation and sale of Saudi SIM cards in large volumes in neighboring countries harms the national economy. “Therefore, the decision to ban the free roaming is a positive one,” she said. “There need to be competitive plans and packages for the Saudi students abroad, who number about 180,000,” she added.
Al-Malih said that around 2 million SIM cards have been taken outside Saudi Arabia. “Since these cards have free international roaming capabilities, this translates to an annual loss of SR 2.2 billion for mobile operators,” she said.
According to earlier official statistics, expenditure on communications and information technology in the Kingdom was around SR 94 billion ($ 25 billion) in 2012, up from SR 21 billion ($ 5.6 billion) in 2002.