Qatar telco market embraces liberalisation

The Arab telecommunications market moved one step closer towards complete market liberalisation on Monday as the Qatar government invited offers to own and operate the Emirate’s second mobile phone and fixed-line services.

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By  Ronan Shields Published  April 25, 2007

The Arab telecommunications market moved one step closer towards complete market liberalisation on Monday as the Qatar government invited offers to own and operate the Emirate’s second mobile phone and fixed-line services. The move, which would end the Arab world’s last remaining mobile phone monopoly, is set for completion by the end of 2007 with Qatar’s Supreme Council of Information & Communication Technology (ictQATAR) accepting bids from interested companies until May 27. ictQATAR also confirmed that it had received over a dozen expressions of interest from prospective companies recently and that the mobile licensing process was set for completion by the end of 2007. Despite Qatar’s small population of 840,000, which is predicted to reach 1.34 million by 2015, and mobile penetrations rates in excess of 100%, ictQATAR officials claimed this was a lucrative proposition. "This is a small country, but it is rapidly expanding in population and GDP per head. There is a lot of room to grow for a new operator," said William Fagan, ictQATAR’s executive director. "The penetration rate does not provide a disincentive to enter the market," he added. Fagan also highlighted that the country’s mobile users almost doubled since 2004 and that average revenue per user stood at US$981. Incumbent operator Qatar Telecommunications Co (Qtel), has held a monopoly on mobile and fixed-line services until the government announced in November it would liberalise the sector, posted a 28.3% rice in mobile phone users last year to 920,000.

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