The group includes members from each of the telecommunications regulators telecommunications in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the regulation of international mobile roaming services within the GCC.
In February 2012, regulations were implemented by the telecommunications regulators of the GCC which established maximum prices for outgoing calls while roaming within the GCC. This led to price reductions of up to 70%. Now that this regulation has been established and operating for a number of years, the Mobile Roaming Working Group is considering whether the regulations should be extended to cover other roaming services within the GCC such as incoming voice calls, SMS, MMS, and data.
During this meeting, a range of significant topics relating to mobile roaming services was discussed, and work continued on developing a consultation paper that assesses the potential regional impact of expanding the scope of the existing regulations of intra-GCC mobile roaming services. All mobile operators within the GCC will be invited to share their insights and views on this consultation paper. The meeting also discussed the impact of the current roaming regulations.
Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, Director General of the TRA, commented, “This was an important meeting for the GCC. Back in 2011 and 2012, the TRA U.A.E. worked closely with the other telecommunications sector regulators in the Gulf, and with the licensed mobile operators in the U.A.E., to implement the intra-GCC voice roaming regulations. I believe that these regulations have been a tremendous success and have reaped substantial benefits for consumers. To build on that success, the TRA is now working once again with the licensed mobile operators and GCC regulators to determine whether the regulations should be extended to other roaming services. Such decisions cannot be taken lightly though. It is vital that we carefully examine in detail the impact that further regulations will have on all groups of stakeholders, including consumers and mobile operators.
“This project is very timely. We have recently seen significant growth in the number of smartphone users in the GCC. This means that consumers now have the ability to easily access the Internet while abroad. However, many consumers perceive the cost of accessing the Internet while roaming to be very high. This is an issue that needs to carefully considered, and the meeting of the Mobile Roaming Working Group provided an important platform for these discussion to continue,” he added.
The meeting was held pursuant to the resolution of the GCC Ministerial Council meeting in its 124th edition which was held in Jeddah in September 2012. The meeting resulted in the approval of the GCC Ministerial Committee for Post, Telecommunications and IT to designate a specialised consultancy firm to study international mobile roaming regulations within the GCC.
This meeting represents a continuation of a series of previous meetings which have taken place in Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.