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Vodafone Qatar mobile roll-out by end of 2009

Company to launch service in March but not available to all until end of the year - CEO.

Vodafone chiefs in Qatar have announced that the roll-out of their new mobile phone service to customers in the Gulf state should be completed by the end of 2009.

Vodafone Qatar CEO Grahame Maher said the country’s second mobile operator would turn on its network on March 1 as scheduled but would not be available to everyone until it is happy with the quality of the service.

“Not everyone can use Vodafone on March 1, when we turn on our network in Qatar. There will be some select customers while the network is being turned on. The commercial launch of our service will be only when we achieve quality that is benchmarked to Vodafone’s international standards," he said in comments published by Qatar daily Gulf Times on Thursday.

"We must be comfortable with our capacity and need to make sure our coverage is complete before we can take in any customer. I hope to reach there before 2009-end,” Maher added.

For the first time in public, Vodafone Qatar made a call on its network at its data centre at 2.55pm on Wednesday.

Vodafone Qatar will offer both pre-paid and post-paid mobile services nationwide following the commercial launch which will see them provide competition to telecoms giant Qtel.

Customers can begin reserving their Vodafone numbers before March 1 with Vodafone’s seven-digit mobile numbers in Qatar starting with 7, Maher added.

Asked whether the global economic downturn would have an impact on Vodafone Qatar operations, he told the paper: “No. Vodafone is among the few better performing stocks on the FTSE, London.

"Its growth is much better than that of the market. We are quite bullish about Qatar. This is a fantastic place to do some stunning things.”

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