The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE has told the region's mobile operators they are not allowed to let customers exceed their mobile data limit, unless they have instructed their provider they are prepared to incur the additional charges.
The new directive aims to protect mobile data subscribers from "bill shock", with consumers often not aware of the actual costs of exceeding their data allowance.
Directive (1) of 2016 applies to all mobile data bundles and affects Etisalat and du – the region's two mobile operators.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, TRA director-general, acknowledged that mobile data subscribers have the ability to monitor and manage their data usage, but was worried that many are not aware of the tools.
He added that it was also "inherently difficult" for consumers to try and gauge how much data they are using while browsing the internet and sending emails – only finding out the cost once they've received their bill.
Under the new directive, mobile operators are only allowed to supply additional data to consumers if they either subscribe to another mobile data bundle, opt-in to be charged at an over-bundle rate, or ask their service provider to remove the hard cap on their data allowance.
If requested by a customer to provide additional mobile data, operators must record the consent.
"We are concerned with the potential for consumers to receive larger-than-expected charges for their out-of-bundle mobile data usage," H.E. Al Mansoori said.
"We aim to address the issue once and for all through this new directive."