Saudi Telcos End Global Free Roaming

An unusual perk allowing telecoms customers in Saudi Arabia to receive free calls while abroad came to an end on Friday after the country’s regulator forced telcos to stop offering the service due to what it deemed to be widespread abuse.

Saudi customers had previously been able to pick up the phone for free while travelling – a service telcos introduced in 2008 for students living abroad and for Saudi’s staying overseas for long periods in the summer months, according to analysts.

But the Saudi regulator, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), earlier this month told telcos – STC, Mobily and Zain KSA – to stop offering the service as millions of SIM cards had been shipped out of the country so that expats could phone families at home at domestic rates and businesses with operations overseas used the SIMs to avoid international calls, according to local media reports.

Telcos promised to introduce special packages for Saudi students abroad.