Egypt GSM firms offer discounts for pilgrims during Ramadan

Egypt's trio of mobile operators offering rate reductions for pilgrims and charity initiatives aimed to benefit the poor in Egypt during holy month Ramadan.

Egypt GSM firms offer discounts for pilgrims during Ramadan

Egypt's trio of mobile operators offering rate reductions for pilgrims and charity initiatives aimed to benefit the poor in Egypt during holy month Ramadan.

The moves reflect increasingly fierce competition between Mobinil, Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Egypt, which have all slashed rates to woo new users in a market analysts say may approach saturation within six years.

Mobinil and Etisalat Egypt, a unit of UAE-based Etisalat, have cut their roaming fees to 50 piastres per minute for customers to receive calls from Egypt while performing the umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan.

Vodafone Egypt, a subsidiary of global operator Vodafone, is offering six free roaming minutes in any ten days of Ramadan for Egyptians in Saudi Arabia for a one-off cost of 3 pounds.

"They are getting very aggressive in term of offers, even more than last year when emphasis was more on the on-net tariffs," said Nadine Ghobrial, a telecom analyst at EFG-Hermes.

On-net refers to calls between phones on the same network.

"Operators have only one way to go in terms of tariffs, which is down," Ghobrial added.

Each of the Egyptian firms have reached roaming agreements with a different Saudi operator. Mobinil customers will use the Zain network, Etisalat's offer is on Mobily and Vodafone's is via Saudi Telecom.

Umrah, unlike the haj pilgrimage, can be performed at any time of the year but it is especially popular in the last 10 days of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected to start around Aug. 22.

The minor pilgrimage attracts up to 2 million Muslims from around the world, though Saudi Arabia has said numbers may be lower this year due to fears over swine flu.

Mobinil have also launched a plan to donate one Egyptian pound from every transaction made during the month to a network of micro-financing charities.

Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Ağustos 2009, 09:18
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