ABU DHABI, 4th June, 2016 (WAM)–The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE last week issued a directive ordering both etisalat and du to place a hard ceiling on their respective data bundles in an effort to protect consumers from disproportionately high bills.

The directive makes the two operators limit the supply of mobile data in relation to the size of the bundle. In simple terms, once the bundle allowance if finished, the consumer can t get more data unless they give specific consent.

“The move is meant to prevent phone users being stung by huge bills from more data that s just added on to their service bundles all too easily,” said UAE local daily, Gulf News, in its editorial on Saturday.

“This move by the TRA is a good one and the authority and its officials should be commended for acting in the best interests of the consumers. The reality is that the phones in our pockets now have replaced laptops, desktop computers and tablets. Owing to unprecedented growth of social media platforms and the need to always stay connected with friends, we re all using data as if it were water: It s that vital to our everyday survival now. An exaggeration perhaps, but teens today living without being connected suffer as if they are marooned on a deserted island,” it added.

But while the TRA and its officials in this instance have acted in the best interests of the consumers, that s hardly a ringing endorsement and perhaps the time is now ripe to fully consider the role of the authority.

The paper underlined that the telecommunications sector is changing rapidly. “Long gone are the days when etisalat and du just needed to make sure that our home telephones were working fine. While home phones haven t gone out of use completely, it is the mobile phone that is now the preferred means of instant connection both, for voice services as well as the internet.”

The UAE too has grown and there are now more than 11 million people who proudly call this nation home. That s a huge market and given the number of consumer complaints that arise over service issues with both the providers, it is necessary that both the service providers do full justice to the consumers.

Simply put, it s time that the UAE telecommunications sector is liberalised and opened up to a third or more providers. “Such a move will create meaningful competition, spur retail and marketing growth and will be a clarion call to both the existing providers that they need to listen to consumer demands, fix service issues at the earliest and ensure that their brand can cut it in a competitive marketplace. That needs to happen soon,” it concluded.

WAM/Majok WAM 0936 2016/06/04 END