Minister promises to address costly mobile calls

17 Aug 2007

Lebanon’s Telecoms Minister, Marwan Hamadeh, promised yesterday to review mobile phone call charges before the end of his government’s term, reports local paper the Daily Star. The country’s charges are considered to be amongst the highest in the world, with pre-paid calls costing an average of more than USD0.45 per minute, and calls for contract users averaging around USD0.20 a minute. The average rate for a one-minute mobile call is less than USD0.10 a minute in ‘most countries in the world’, according to local consumer groups. Observers point to high prices as a factor inhibiting growth of the cellular market: Lebanon has a wireless penetration of around 30%, compared to over 75% in Jordan, a country of lower GDP per capita, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database. Encouraging growth in the subscriber base would also serve to raise the price fetched for the planned privatisation of the country’s two mobile networks, currently managed by Kuwait’s MTC and Germany’s DeTeCon. The government was hoping to auction new mobile licences before the end of this year but many observers say that this goal is unrealistic given the Lebanon’s current political and security situation.