ictQATAR, Qatar’s telecoms regulator has announced that it has issued the country’s second fixed line network operating licence to Vodafone Qatar, allowing the company to provide fixed access services nationwide, effective 29 April 2010. The UK-backed firm, which broke the mobile telephony monopoly of Qatar Telecom last year, was originally announced as the winner of the second national operator (SNO) licence in September 2008. ictQATAR’s statement added that Vodafone Qatar will be able to provide fixed telephony and data services to consumers, businesses and government in Qatar as well as other services such as leased lines, international connectivity and VSAT services. As the holder of fixed and mobile licences, it will also be able to provide converged services involving both mobile and fixed networks such as fixed/mobile data packages. Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber, ictQATAR’s Secretary General, said, ‘The issuing of the second fixed licence concludes the first major phase of liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in Qatar. Consumers and businesses have already seen the benefits of competition, and the choices available in mobile markets, and now they can look forward to this in respect to fixed networks and services. I also expect significant competition with converged fixed and mobile services.’
Vodafone Qatar's concession carries certain obligations to provide services to specific areas, namely to offer full service coverage to the Pearl Development (internet services within three months and voice services within twelve months), the West Bay CBD area (within 30 months) and the rest of the State of Qatar (within 48 months). The licence award remains contingent on the company completing necessary changes to its articles of association within the next three months, a company official confirmed. Once the amendment is approved by shareholders, Vodafone Qatar must pay a licence fee of QAR10 million (USD2.75 million).