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Qtel reaches 1.8 million mobile users in Qatar

Qatari incumbent attributes subscriber growth to new packages and services

Qtel, Qatar’s incumbent telecom operator, said it had gained 300,000 mobile users since November 2008, taking its mobile subscriber base to 1.8 million users.

The company attributed the rise in subscribers to new packages and services which it launched recently in preparation for competition from rival mobile operator Vodafone Qatar, which is due to launch limited operations later this month.

Qtel recently launched its Hala Pay-As-You-Talk service and Shahry postpaid mobile phone service, both of which were designed to increase choice and flexibility for users.

“We have always said that competition would be good for the people of Qatar and good for Qtel, since it will enable us to demonstrate just how attractive our services are, and will encourage us to fully understand our customers’ needs,” said Adel Al Mutawa, executive director of communications, Qtel.

Qtel announced the increase in subscribers as its rival Vodafone Qatar prepares to launch its own mobile service. The operator, which is a partnership between the Qatar Foundation and Vodafone, said it will start limited services from March 10, initially with 100 customers. The company expects to complete its network rollout and start full services by mid-2009, according to a report from Qatar daily Gulf Times.

Any battle for new subscribers is likely to be hard fought. Qatar, which has a population of almost 900,000 people, already has some 1.25 million subscribers giving the country a mobile penetration rate of more than 150%, according to Informa Telecoms and Media.

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