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Qatar: no laws against VoIP

Qatar's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, ictQATAR, states there are no rules that prohibit the use of VoIP technology

In response to the confusion raised by recent newspaper articles on Qatar's legal position regarding Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the Supreme Council for Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR, have clarified that there are no laws or rules that prohibit the use of such technology within Qatar.

ictQATAR said in its statement: “VoIP is a technology for the delivery of voice services using existing Internet infrastructure and services. There are no laws or rules that prohibit the use of such technology within the State of Qatar. Telecommunications Law No. 34 does, however, make it illegal for any person to provide telecommunications services to the public for a direct or indirect fee without a licence issued by ictQATAR for that purpose.”

VoIP services convert voices into a digital signal that travels over the Internet and is used for making calls from PC to PC, PC to phone and even phone to phone. Many residents in Qatar use VoIP to make cheaper and even free international calls, with several Internet cafes offering VoIP services on the sly.

When asked about the legality of the popular services of JustVoiP, a company that offers Internet telephony, a legal consultant with ictQATAR told Gulf Times, Qatar’s daily newspaper, that while availing of it for personal use was not a crime, selling of vouchers to charge the credit of a JustVoiP account was illegal. To the question of whether it is legal to pay the charge or top up a VoIP account online (e.g., Skype) using a credit card, the official said that as long as it was done for personal use, it was lawful.

The clarification will come as a relief for VoIP users at home or at work to call family, friends or business contacts that live abroad.

At present, the only two companies licensed by by ictQATAR to provide such voice services are Qatar Telecom (QTel) Q.S.C. and Vodafone Qatar Q.S.C.

For more information on Qatar's VoIP policy, consumers can call the help line at +974 499 5353 or send an email to consumervoice@ict.gov.qa

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