Qatar's Qtel ordered to close all Virgin-branded services

ictQatar orders all Virgin Mobile SIMs turned off by 8th August

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Qatar's Qtel ordered to close all Virgin-branded services Nasser Marafih (l) CEO of Qtel and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin at the launch of Virgin Mobile Qatar, the deal was described as a 'brand licensing partnership', competitors said it amounted to an MVNO in contradiction of licensing regulation.
By  Andy Sambidge Published  June 7, 2011

Qatar's telecommunications regulator on Monday ordered Qatar Telecom (Qtel) to close all its Virgin Mobile-branded services in the country.

According to a statement on its website, The Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) said all Virgin Mobile branded SIM cards must be de-activated by August 4.

"Qtel is required to transfer all existing customers currently on Qtel's Virgin Mobile Service to a similar Qtel service or provide a full cash refund," said ictQATAR.

The regulator ruled last July that Qtel broke the law when it partnered with Virgin Mobile to offer mobile telephone services.

That decision came after Vodafone Qatar threatened to take legal action against ictQatar for allowing the partnership.

At the time Qtel said it would continue to offer the Virgin Mobile service with a few changes to its marketing strategy.

But now, ictQATAR has instructed Qtel to close all Virgin Mobile-branded services in the Gulf state.

It said Qtel will announce the start date for its customer migration/refund programme and communicate full details to customers in the next few days.

It added that Qtel had a legal obligation to resolve any complaints from customers within 30 days of receiving the complaint.

Speaking to Arabian Business last November, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson said he was planning to expand his Virgin Mobile brand across the Arab world, with the UAE being targeted for new services.

Virgin Mobile Qatar was the eighth Virgin Mobile branded operation in the world, following on from launches in the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, France, South Africa, and India.

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