Mobile phone operators have opposed the planned cut in roaming charges. Mobile phone operators have opposed the planned cut in roaming charges.

Gulf telecoms operators are due to slash mobile phone roaming charges to consumers by at least 50 percent from Feb 1, an official of the Gulf Cooperation Council said Monday.

Telecoms operators attending a meeting in Riyadh earlier this month committed themselves to lower retail prices, Abdullah al-Shibli, GCC assistant secretary general for economic affairs, said in a statement.

The statement did not give details of the new rates but said the decision would “reduce rates of international roaming between the GCC countries by more than 50% from current prices".

The names of the telecoms operators impacted by the ruling were not released.

Gulf telecom regulators have long campaigned for a reduction in roaming charges in a bid to bring costs in line with those seen in developed markets.

Analysts said authorities had previously tried to implement a MENA-wide rate reduction scheme, but this had failed in the face of diverging regional agendas.

“About three or four years ago there was an attempt to regulate roaming tariffs at an Arab world level,” said Matthew Reed, a telecoms analyst with consultancy Informa. “This was inspired by the EU, where there has been various interventions on roaming. But although the plan was endorsed, it was no enforced. There wasn’t the political will.”

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