Concern in Lebanon as cell information charges surge

BEIRUT: The adoption of recent tariffs for telephone companies and subscriptions in Lebanon has triggered concern.

Pricing will now comply with the greenback alternate charge on the Sayrafa platform, which is about LBP25,200. Costs was once calculated in keeping with the official alternate charge of LBP1,515.

The tariff increase got here into power on Friday.

Individuals awakened on Friday to textual content messages despatched by telecom operators calculating their balances in keeping with the Sayrafa alternate charge, stunned by the worth of their steadiness tumbling to under $1.

BACKGROUND

Younger folks’s telephones fell silent, with some preferring to remain at residence as a result of the price of residence web companies stays the identical.

In Could, the Cupboard accepted the choice to extend the tariffs and charges for landline, cell calls, and the web beginning July 1.

They are going to be calculated by dividing the earlier greenback invoice by three after which paying it in Lebanese kilos per the Sayrafa platform charge.

However individuals are struggling to just accept the brand new costs, regardless of the assistance supplied to college students and safety companies by telecom firms Contact and Alfa.

Rabih, a 17-year-old scholar, stated: “I had LBP75,000 in my steadiness, which used to quantity to $49 in keeping with the official charge. The quantity shrank at the moment to 30 (US) cents.”

Based mostly on comparability tables between the costs in {dollars} and the costs adopted now, costs have fallen by about 300 p.c in {dollars}, whereas their calculation in keeping with the Lebanese pound charge exhibits a big enhance starting from 500 to 700 p.c.

The Lebanese forex has misplaced greater than 95 p.c of its worth, resulting in vital worth variations.

The value desk circulated by telecom firms exhibits {that a} 30-day pay as you go card which used to value $22.7 — equal to about LBP34,000 per the official greenback alternate charge — now prices $7.58.

However, if calculated based mostly on the Sayrafa charge, its value rises to LBP191,000, which implies a rise of about 560 p.c.

The telecom firms confirmed that the step got here in response to the “necessity to keep up the continuity of the telecom sector and the offered companies, amid the financial and monetary disaster and the rise of the excessive value of energy insurance coverage for vegetation, and since this sector is without doubt one of the most vital pillars of the nationwide economic system.”

Activists warned that “audio messages and movies shouldn’t be despatched when utilizing the 4G service as a result of they are going to devour all telephone information.”

Younger folks’s telephones fell silent, with some preferring to remain at residence as a result of the price of residence web companies stays the identical.

The Lebanese are pondering twice earlier than downloading a video or image utilizing the 3G or 4G service.

Individuals counting on this service hesitate earlier than opening any video obtained. Sending morning flowers and night greetings has decreased considerably in latest days.

Abbas, a non-public web service distributor, stated: “We raised our costs however all distributors agreed to calculate their costs in keeping with the speed of LBP10,000 for the greenback as a substitute of the Sayrafa charge of about LBP25,000 to compete with the Ogero service affiliated to the Ministry of Telecommunications and preserve our subscribers. Our costs took into consideration the prices of transportation, generator subscriptions, and workers. I don’t deny that some subscribers determined to go for the Ogero service as a result of it’s cheaper than ours by LBP60,000.

“However they forgot that Ogero is affected by gasoline scarcity, stopping it from securing the service around-the-clock. Many operators are compelled to show off their machines because of their incapacity to safe {dollars} to purchase diesel and function the turbines.

“Furthermore, Ogero faces issues in putting in new web cables due to the excessive transportation value of workers who’ve to maneuver round between the purchasers’ homes to supply their companies.”

The approach to life of the Lebanese is present process main modifications, particularly younger individuals who now must rethink the time they allocate for speaking on the telephone and web use.

Abbas stated that espresso retailers providing free web had “considerably raised” their meals and beverage costs to offer their clients with this service. “If they begin incurring losses, they could begin slowing down the web to scale back its use.”

Rabih stated that he and his mates had determined to remain at residence to make use of the house web for his or her telephone calls and chats, despite the fact that the house web invoice had elevated from LBP100,000 to greater than LBP400,000.

He feared the life-style that they had turn out to be used to would possibly change, and he nervous concerning the state of their training subsequent yr in the event that they returned to distant studying.

Telecom companies are the one ones falling underneath the official greenback charge. Different companies are priced based mostly on the black market alternate charge, whereas the remaining sponsored medicines are according to the Sayrafa platform charge.

However the tariff will increase haven’t triggered any response within the streets as occurred in 2019 when the Ministry of Telecommunications mentioned the opportunity of imposing a $6 price on WhatsApp.

It backtracked on this plan in response to public stress.

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