UAE operator Etisalat has announced the launch of a service called Easy Prepaid that business customers may add to their existing postpaid mobile plans. The new hybrid capability enables customers to switch between prepaid and postpaid features without needing to change their telephone numbers. They can top up credit, make out-of-bundle calls and subscribe to add-ons using standard prepaid tariff rates.
Easy Prepaid allows employees of a business subscriber to make personal calls at their own expense. He or she can use a prepaid account—with the same number—after he or she reaches the maximum allowance given by the company. The feature also caters to customers who have company restrictions on making international calls using their existing business mobile plans. The new hybrid capability also enables employees on postpaid plans to pay for parking and other value-added services using their prepaid credit.
Customers can recharge their prepaid credit using any existing recharge option, the Etisalat Business Mobile app or online banking apps. Once the account is recharged, the customer can switch from postpaid to Easy Prepaid by dialing a code.
We find Easy Prepaid to be an innovative and simple solution to a common problem faced by businesses and their employees. While using a mobile phone whose service is paid for by the company (typically a postpaid account), employees will at times want or need to make personal calls and use data for personal purposes. The company will not want these charges on its account, and in cases where the company actually bars certain services from its lines, such as international calls, Easy Prepaid gives employees a way to use those services without involving the company.
Of course, there are other possible solutions—having a separate device for personal use, dual SIMs and various unlimited service arrangements. Still, there is something particularly appealing about this idea of adding a personal aspect to a business line. And the fact that it is prepaid is particularly appropriate, in that it allows the employee to pay only for service used, on the assumption that the device with the business plan will not be that employee’s only device. This way, the employee can essentially customize his or her personal service.
The add-ons such as mobile parking are also good fits for this service, in that parking is something that employees often need to pay for after having driven to work. In sum, this prepaid-postpaid hybrid is a clever, innovative, and low-impact solution to a common problem. Since many people do have more than one device, it will not be for everybody, but we believe it has a significant target demographic.