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23 April 2024

iPhone 3G service to prepaid customers soon

iPhone 3G requires high bandwidth for multi-media applications such as music and videos. (DENNIS B MALLARI)

By Nancy Sudheer

Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (etisalat), the UAE's telecom service provider, which launched the Apple iPhone 3G in the UAE this week, said the service will be extended to prepaid customers also.

"We will announce prepaid plans in the near future. As of now prepaid customers can benefit from the free postpaid SIM card on purchase of every package and activate their iphone 3G," Khalifa Al Shamsi, etisalat's Vice-President Marketing /Consumer told Emirates Business.

While etisalat launched iPhone 3G only with postpaid plan in the UAE, the Saudi operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has launched both prepaid and postpaid plans.

Etisalat also confirmed when launched that users can move to a prepaid plan from the previous postpaid subscription. However, details were not shared on the penalty or repercussions of moving to a prepaid plan before the 12-month period of the contract with etisalat.

On the pricing of iPhone 3G, there have been different reports from iPhone users. The price structure offered by Mobily on a postpaid connection appears cheaper with the monthly offer of SR99 resulting in 25,000 bookings of the iphone, confirmed Mobily sources. On a closer look, the data downloads offered on the 16GB iphone postpaid connection is only 199MB for 12 months while on the prepaid is 250MB for six months. At the same time etisalat offers a maximum of up to 2GB (2000MB) and minimum 500MB downloads on a postpaid connection for 12 months on a 16GB iphone 3G.

Magnus Nystedt, Director of Communications at Centimetercube and Founder of Emiratesmac, a UAE-based Apple user group said: "The etisalat plan is on the low side when it comes to data. On the pricing of the phone it would have been better if there was an unlimited option like the Blackberry. Inspite of having an etisalat iPhone, I am also using my previous SIM card with my previous 10GB plan. I use a lot of data and even 2GB may not be enough for me. A typical iphone user would require at least 5GB monthly of data downloads."

Iphone users are encouraged to use and download applications from apple store and videos from websites like Youtube. "This is the difference between a Blackberry and an iPhone as the former is typically targeted at voice and the latter at entertainment. Therefore, the iPhone will always require more bandwidth and many users keep both the Blackberry and iPhone for different purposes," said Nystedt.

Al Shamsi said: "iPhone 3G is predominantly an internet phone that requires high bandwidth for multi-media applications like music and videos. Hence, providing additional bandwidth works to the benefit of customers who can use iPhone features by utilising higher bandwidth offered by etisalat."

There has also been confusion at the consumer end on the ownership of the iPhone after the end of the 12-month contract. "Customers will, indeed, own the device and will not have to make the entire payment again. At the end of the year if they don't want to take up etisalat services, they can put in another SIM card."