French President Emmanuel Macron previously said that he “will not let the services system collapse in Lebanon”, and renewed his promise to stand by Lebanon during his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Elysee Palace. However, we have already reached the red line regarding the assets of the Banque du Liban in US dollars, which was reflected in the amount of fuel that Lebanon would be able to import, the ability to maintain Electricity Lebanon’s equipment, and the purchase of maintenance parts. Therefore, the electricity and diesel crises threatened the service system, and affected, according to “touch”, telecommunications services.
We can’t put all the problems that touch is going through in the electricity crisis basket. Not even the economic problems that the country is going through. The observation that some say is that the company withdraws a large amount of “data”, from phones that do not have many applications, and do not need this amount of internet, and from phones whose owners rarely use the company’s “data”.
More than that, An-Nahar received numerous complaints from citizens outside Lebanon, with which Touch withdrew more than $80, in exchange for a few minutes, without consuming that many dollars. Touch’s response to An-Nahar’s question in this regard stated that “the company is committed to the directives of the Ministry of Communications, and that the cost of roaming calls is paid in US dollars to foreign operators, while fees are collected from customers on the basis of the official exchange rate determined by the Banque du Liban,” adding that Accordingly, and with the approval of the Ministry of Communications, the roaming rate schedule is regularly reassessed to compensate for payments in US dollars to roaming operators.”
The company clarified by this that the pricing is still according to the official exchange rate, and did not indicate the reason for the excessively high withdrawals for many subscribers.
In the response of Touch, an indication that the cost of roaming calls is paid in US dollars to foreign operators, while the company collects fees according to the official exchange rate (ie 1507.5 liras to one dollar). This sign is sufficient to conclude that telecommunications companies, like all sectors, want to get their returns at the appropriate exchange rate for their costs. However, Touch told Al-Nahar that “any change in the prices of products and services is within the prerogatives of the Ministry of Communications and the government, since the sector is owned by the Lebanese state.” The previous government had a proposal to amend telecommunications bills, but it did not take this step. However, despite all the talk about companies paying their costs in US dollars, it remains to point out that the telecommunications bill in Lebanon is one of the highest in the world.
In France, the price of some communications packages ranges from 5 euros to 13 euros, with the possibility of making an unlimited number of calls, and sending an unlimited number of text messages with (4G) internet. The amount of “data” varies according to the subscription cost.
Lebanon, unlike other countries, the subscriber has to pay monthly instead of keeping the cell line on the network, and this cost does not include any of the calls, text messages, or even the Internet.
In response to An-Nahar’s question about the reason for the high subscription fees in Lebanon, “touch” answered that “data prices have been reduced in recent years. Also, these prices are no longer considered exorbitant due to the depreciation of the national currency, and therefore they have become competitive compared to other markets.” . Touch’s answer was an acknowledgment that the cost was exorbitant when the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound was fixed. And touch continued, “The Ministry of Communications sets standards and controls for pricing any data and communications product, and the company must apply these prices, and work according to the standards set by the ministry.”
For his part, Minister of Communications Johnny Al-Qarm confirmed to “Al-Nahar” after he visited the cellular companies “Alfa” and “Touch” to “Al-Nahar” that “at the present time there is no project to increase the prices of communications in Lebanon,” explaining that “raising prices will not It can only be as part of a comprehensive plan for the government.”
Al-Qarm added to “Al-Nahar” that “the companies (Alfa) and (Touch) can, according to the system, sell services different from the phone and the Internet, and we would like to take advantage of this issue, because we have the necessary technical capacity to be able to compensate for the problem of lack of income.” “Introducing the possibility of compensating for the decline in income with new services that are intended for institutions and commercial companies.”
As for the slow network in most regions, which often disrupts the work of employees, and loses them contact with their workplaces during remote work, “touch” explained to “Al-Nahar” that “the communications sector is not separate from the crisis of the long daily interruption of feeding hours. the electricity supply and the scarcity of diesel,” the company added, adding that the crisis “reflects on most sectors. The company faces some difficulties in sending it to different Lebanese regions due to the daily power cuts. As a result, the owners of the generators we deal with to operate our stations are forced to turn them off for a specific time to rest them, and accordingly it is affected The work of some of our transmission stations
Touch added, “It cannot fill small stations with diesel due to the lack of diesel, but we are working with the concerned authorities to deliver larger quantities of the substance to improve network performance.” She pointed out that “to ensure the continuity of transmission without interruption, regardless of the problems of electricity and diesel, the company is currently working to enhance the performance of the batteries in the stations to contain the problem of generator subscriptions, in addition to equipping the transmission stations with their own generators as much as possible.”
She said, “In light of the large power outage, users have become dependent on cellular data at a greater rate around the clock, to compensate for the lack of Internet service (Wi-Fi) that needs electricity, which has inevitably reflected an increase in the amount of data or data. that they consume on a daily basis.
Regarding the slow customer service in Touch, the company indicated that “the hotline (111) is witnessing an unprecedented communication movement during this period, to inquire about various matters that concern them in their daily contacts, due to the exceptional circumstances the country is going through, and it is reflected on all Domains”. She stressed that citizens can communicate with the company through our multiple digital channels.
One of the problems that touch subscribers suffer from is their inability to obtain a new package of data despite their sufficient balance, and the company’s response to them through the application was that there are technical problems that the company is trying to address.