Increasing prices of internet services in Syria’s Idlib
In Syria’s war-torn province of Idlib, and with the Syrian government’s frequent internet shutdowns, internet access turns out to be highly decentralized. Some internet companies are seeking to purchase internet access from Turkey’s internet service providers (ISPs) and provide internet service packages for their customers.
As monitored by Enab Baladi, the internet prices in Idlib are estimated according to speed tiers for one household.
3 Mbps – 3000 Syrian pounds (SYP- 3.3 USD)
2 Mbps – 5000 SYP (5.5 USD)
3 Mbps – 6000 SYP (6.6 USD)
Abdullah Zakhim, a resident of Ariha town in the southern countryside of Idlib, told Enab Baladi, that the prices of basic necessities of life have dramatically increased including the internet services, which increased by 75 percent.
The price of the 1Mbps package for more than one user reaches six USD.
Walaa Zaatour, an activist in rural Idlib, said that prices increased by 75 percent after the devaluation of the Syrian currency against the US dollar in addition to the problem of low internet connection speeds. This prompts the subscriber to get high-speed internet access which means higher costs.
Reasons for climbing the internet bill
The Executive Director of the Moon internet service provider in Idlib, Muhammad Shehadeh explained that the reason behind the spike in internet services is the decline in the value of the Syrian pound. Shehadeh tried to keep the old price of the internet packages, but the ISPs of the area rely on the internet bill to run while the big ISPs operate with rudimentary profits.
Shehadeh added, “we take into consideration the economic situation of the subscribers, in terms of weak purchasing power, and we also strive to make the price of the internet service appropriate in terms of size and price.”
Shehadeh said that the Turkish ISPs which deliver internet to Idlib also contributed to high internet bills since the Turkish ISPs receive payments only in Turkish Lira or US dollars as well as the high prices of fuels that operate generators, and the currency conversion.
An internet service provider in Idlib, who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons, accused the Salvation Government (SG) of controlling the network in the region after establishing it. The SG imposed contracts on the internet services providers with it to get a percentage of the profits, which in turn forced the providers to raise the price.
Salvation government comments
Enab Baladi communicated with the Director-General of the Communication Establishment of the SG, Osama Awad, who said that the main reason behind high prices is the low exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the Turkish lira, pointing out that the owners of the Turkish ISPs deal and offer their service in foreign currencies.
The second reason, according to Awad, is that all the equipment needed for internet service including devices and their maintenance are done in foreign exchanges.
Awad believes that the resolution to this problem is to find a way to deal in a currency other than the Syrian currency, to avoid the negative impact of the currency depreciation on internet services.
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