According to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Ministry of Communications (MoC) undersecretary Abdulmohsin Al-Mazidi has confirmed that four leading Kuwaiti internet service providers (ISPs) have agreed to lower their charges by between 15% and 25% following talks held late last week. The agreement – which was signed by FASTtelco, Qualitynet, Gulfnet Communications and Zajil Telecom (KEMS) – will come into effect on Friday 22 July, one week on from the meeting. Also under discussion was a ‘fair usage’ policy that had been mooted by the respective telecoms operators. A stipulation on download limits was suggested by the ISPs as a partial compromise, but the MoC rejected the idea after coming under mounting political pressure.
Speaking to reporters prior to the meeting, MP Dr Faisal Al-Muslim called on the government to stop turning a blind eye towards the ISPs’ actions, commenting: ‘Even if we have seen promising developments … we will not remain silent over the internet issue. We have to end the malpractices of some ISPs in the country to protect the consumers. Some of these companies operate without legal backing. The Ministry of Communications – the main provider of internet services to these companies – knows how the companies exploit the situation to monopolise the service, yet it has not taken any measure in this regard’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the MoC acts as both Kuwait’s telecoms regulator and its sole fixed line telephony operator. In November 2010 the MoC announced that it intended to establish an independent telecoms regulator as part of its ongoing intention to privatise the country’s fixed line telephony market. No date was given for the introduction of a separate regulator, but the MoC claimed that no further ISP licences would be issued in the interim period.