Vodafone Qatar expects Virgin verdict by end-July
Virgin Mobile launched recently in Qatar by entering into a licensing tie-up with Qtel
Vodafone Qatar has said that it expects a decision from the country’s telecom regulator on Virgin Mobile’s entry into market by the end of the month.
“We have a legal action, and a legal process running with ictQatar. The ictQatar piece is the piece that must come first and that is what I’m expecting by the end of July,” CEO Grahame Maher said.
The operator, a unit of UK telecoms giant Vodafone Group, said in May it was pursuing legal action against ictQatar, saying it believed Virgin’s partnership with state-controlled Qatar Telecom (Qtel), was unlicensed, Qatar Tribune reported on Wednesday.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile launched two months ago in Qatar by entering into a licensing tie-up with Qtel.
“We think Virgin is a third operator in the market place so it does impact us,” Maher added.
Vodafone Qatar was listed on the Doha bourse last summer and is still posting losses due to QR7.7 billion ($2.12 billion) it paid for the second mobile licence in Qatar.
In June, Maher told Reuters: "Our view is that there is a new service provider in the market. Our shareholders paid 7.7 billion Qatari riyals ($2.1 billion) for a licence that allowed for a period with no extra service providers. That has changed."
He added: "Therefore we'd like that service provider to leave, or for compensation to be paid. It's really a question of what is the value of the licence if the terms change."
Vodafone won the bid for Qatar's second mobile telephone license in 2007, breaking Qtel's monopoly in the Gulf Arab state, the world's largest liquefied natural gas exporter.