Qatar to set up telecom regulatory authority

Qatar unveils plans to establish independent telecommunications regulatory authority.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  May 31, 2005

Qatar last week unveiled plans to establish its own independent telecommunications regulatory authority. The introduction of competition for Qatar’s monopoly telecoms services provider Qatar Telecom (Qtel) has been expected for some time. As a result, the move looks likely to set up a preliminary basis for further free trade talks with the US. In March last year the two countries signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in Washington DC as a step towards developing closer trade ties. The TIFA opens the possibility of working towards a US-Qatar FTA, though negotiations are yet to commence. “It seems to me that at this point they (the Qatar government) are moving in a similar direction to the UAE, though it’s very hard to tell from a policy perspective what they are going to do,” said Justin Connor, telecoms attorney with Al Tamimi & Co. “They definitely are under a lot of pressure from both the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as well as from the United States to liberalise the sector and to end Qtel’s monopoly in most of telecoms,” he added. Up until now Qatar’s telecoms market has been the least regulated in the Middle East, with the Ministry of Communications having been dissolved in August 2001 to be replaced by the Postal Public Corporation, whose responsibilities extend to the telecoms sector. This has left Qtel as an essentially self-regulating body up until now. However, a Supreme Committee for CIT has been established in the Qatar, which has been charged with navigating the sector towards market liberalisation.

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