The Syrian Telecommunication Establishment (STE), the country's internet monopoly has slashed subscription rates and use of the Internet by half to encourage more businesses to get connected, Dit.net reported Sunday.
Internet access in Syria is currently restricted to the business sector, in addition to key government offices and private and public institutions.
Effective from the start of this month, Internet account holders will be charged $20 per month for subscriptions instead of $40, STE was quoted as saying by Dit.net.
STE also announced that the rates for using telephone lines to access the Web were now reduced from $0.04 per one minute of use to $0.02. The reduction in Internet rates, however, did not effect a one-off payment of $100 made for initial connection setup.
STE, whose e-mail service is provided separate from Internet access, also announced a similar reduction in e-mail subscription rates from $24 to $12 per month. The rates for telephone line use for e-mail were also reduced to $0.02, while the initial setup fees remained unchanged at $100.
A pilot project to officially introduce the Internet into Syria was launched in June 1999. Access was given to businesses and other institutions in September 1999, while access for home users was slated for the near future. There are about 5,000 Internet subscribers in the business and public sectors in Syria, in addition to over 10,000 users subscribed via Internet service providers in neighboring Lebanon.
Syria's new president, Bashar Assad, has vowed to see every house in Syria having Internet access, which is expected to speed up the pace of providing access to home users.
If applied to home users once access is given to the public, the setup fees, which now stand at $100, would be a burden for the majority of home users when the current salary for a fresh university graduate, for instance, ranges between $100 and $200 -- (Several Sources)
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