* Mobily suspended from selling prepaid sim cards
* Ban follows order from regulator that all sims must be
* Co says it is astonished by decision
* Says other operators also yet to comply with order
(Adds comments from company, analyst)
Nov 25 (Reuters) - Etihad Etisalat Co (Mobily),
Saudi Arabia's second-biggest telecoms operator, has asked to
meet the industry regulator after it was suspended from selling
pre-paid SIM cards, a company spokesman said, describing the ban
Mobily's sales of pre-paid, or pay-as-you-go SIM cards will
remain halted until the company "fully meets the pre-paid
service provisioning requirements," the firm said in a
"We're not sure when we can resume selling pre-paid SIM
cards," said a company spokesman. We've requested a meeting with
the CITC governor today to find out what's going on," he added,
in reference to the regulator.
In an earlier order the Communication and Information
Technology Commission said that from Sept. 28 all pre-paid SIM
users must enter a personal identification number when
recharging their accounts and this number must be the same as
the one registered with their mobile operator when the SIM card
This applies not only to Mobily but also to rival operators
Saudi Telecom Co (STC) and Zain Saudi.
"This isn't just about Mobily - other operators also haven't
complied and so we're astonished we've been singled out," said
Mobily's spokesman. "We've done a huge campaign to inform
customers about the ID requirement."
The company has yet to comply with the order because not all
customers have updated their details, he said.
Mobily said the financial impact of the CITC's decision
would be "insignificant", claiming data, corporate and
"post-paid" contract revenues would be its main growth drivers.
"This could have a significant impact on Mobily's Q4
earnings - it depends on how quickly the company resolves this,"
said Asim Bukhtiar, Riyad Capital's head of research.
"Newcomers and visitors buy new SIM cards and if Mobily
can't target this market it will affect the business."
The new SIM registration requirements are a security
"From a CITC perspective it gives them better information on
who is using pre-paid cards - there were a lot of SIM cards
floating around that were not registered to anyone," added
Pre-paid mobile subscriptions are typically more popular
among middle and lower income groups, with telecom operators
pushing customers to shift to monthly contracts that include a
Shares in Mobily, which reported an estimate-beating 23
percent rise in third-quarter profits in October, were down 2.1
percent at 1202 GMT on the Saudi bourse.
No one at STC or Zain Saudi was immediately available for
(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Greg Mahlich)