Mobily pre-paid sales suspended by regulator

Telco tells bourse it is non-compliant with recent service requirements

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Mobily, Saudi Arabia's number-two operator has been told to suspend trade on its pre-paid SIM cards by regulators, Reuters reported.

Mobily announced to the kingdom's bourse that the pay-as-you-go SIMs would remain unavailable until the telco "fully meets the prepaid service provisioning requirements."

Among the criteria to be met are those contained in a September decree from the Saudi telecom sector regulator, Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC). The order requires pre-paid customers to enter a personal identification number when topping up accounts that matches the PIN registered with the operator when the SIM card was first purchased. According to the regulator's website, this procedure is to ensure account details are kept up to date.

Mobily insisted that revenues from data, postpaid and corporate streams would continue to ensure growth and that the loss of pre-paid revenues would be "insignificant". The company announced a 23% increase in Q3 profit, outperforming forecasts, but Reuters reported that its shares were down on the Saudi bourse 1.4% as of 0820 GMT yesterday.

Operators such as Mobily, and Saudi rivals STC and Zain, are keen to switch customers onto monthly postpaid contracts as these type of subscribers are less likely to move to another provider, but the bulk of customers remain on pre-paid accounts.

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