BEIRUT: The adoption of new tariffs for telephone services and subscriptions has given rise to concern among Lebanese.
It is now according to the dollar exchange rate on the Sayrafa platform, approximately 25,000 LL, that prices are being set. Previously, they were calculated at the official exchange rate of LL1515.
The price increase took effect on Friday.
People actually woke up on Friday to text messages sent to them by telecom operators calculating their balances based on the Sayrafa rate. They were surprised to see the value of their balance drop to below $ 1. (1 US dollar = 0.95 euro)
In May, the government had approved the decision to raise tariffs and tariffs for landline and mobile calls as well as for the Internet from 1 July.
They will be calculated by dividing the previous dollar bill by three and then multiplying it by the rate of the Sayrafa platform to finally pay it in Lebanese pounds.
Although the telecommunications companies Touch and Alfa have offered help to students and security services, the Lebanese people are having a hard time accepting these new prices.
“I had 75,000 Lebanese pounds on my balance, which was worth $ 49 according to the official exchange rate. Today I have only 30 cents (dollars),” said Rabih, a 17-year-old student.
According to the comparison table between the prices in dollars and the prices currently adopted, the rates have fallen by about 300% in dollars, while their calculation according to the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound shows a significant increase ranging from 500 to 700%.
The Lebanese currency lost more than 95% of its value, causing a significant price difference.
According to the price table distributed by telecommunications companies, a 30-day prepaid card that coandwas $ 22.7 – or even 34,000 LL depending on the official exchange rate – coandyou now $ 7.58.
Still, if it is calculated at Sayrafa’s rate, it is coandtera 191,000 LL, which represents an increase of approx. 560%.
The telecommunications companies have also confirmed that this measure addresses “the need to maintain the continuity of this sector in the light of the economic and financial crisis and the increase in the cost of electricity insurance for power plants, as this sector is one of the most important pillars of the national economy.”
“Audio messages and videos should not be sent when using the 4G service, as this will consume the entire service.”
Young people have even decided to stop their subscription and prefer to stay at home as the price of home internet services has not changed.
Now Lebanese are thinking twice before downloading a video or image using the 3G or 4G service.
People who rely on these services hesitate to watch any video they receive.
“We have raised our prices. However, all distributors agreed to set their price at the rate of 10,000 LL for one dollar instead of the Sayrafa rate to compete with the Ogero service. The latter is affiliated with the Ministry of Telecommunications. This made it possible “for us to maintain a certain number of subscribers. It is undeniable that we lost others who preferred to choose Ogero as it is 60,000 LL cheaper. The price we set takes into account transportation costs, generator subscriptions and employee pay,” said Abbas, a private distributor of internet services.
“Still, Ogero subscribers forget that this service suffers from a lack of fuel that prevents it from providing service 24 hours a day. Many operators are subsequently forced to turn off their machines due to their inability to find dollars to buy fuel and run the generators.
In addition, Ogero is struggling to install new internet cables so coandt high in the transportation of employees who have to travel to customers’ homes to offer them their services. “
The Lebanese lifestyle is facing many changes. Young people now need to question the time they spend on the phone and the internet.
According to Abbas, cafes offering free internet access have “significantly increased” the price of their food and beverages in order to provide this service to their customers. “If they start to experience losses, they can lower their Internet connection to reduce usage.”
Although the home internet bill increased from LL100,000 to LL400,000, Rabih and his friends decided to use the internet from home for their phone calls and conversations.
He also fears that the lifestyle they had become accustomed to will change and worries about his education next year if they ever return to distance learning.
Telecommunication services are the only ones that follow the official dollar exchange rate. Other services are priced at the black market rate, while subsidized drugs follow the Sayrafa rate.
Still, the price increases have not received the same response as the ability to charge WhatsApp a $ 6 fee that took place in 2019.
To At the time, the Ministry of Telecommunications withdrew on this plan in response to public pressure.
This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com