ictQATAR announced on March 28, 2010 that phone numbers in Qatar will be expanded from seven to eight digits, effective Wednesday July 28, 2010.
This change will address the increasing demand for both fixed and mobile phone numbers in Qatar. The new numbering plan will create an additional 36 million mobile and nine million fixed telephone numbers, surpassing the highest forecasted demand for the next 15-20 years.
Read about the numbering changes below and tell us what you think: how do you think it will affect you as an individual or business? How do you think the changes will be able to meet the growing demand? Are you satisfied with the changes?
In announcing the plan, William Fagan, the Executive Director of ictQATAR's Regulatory Authority said, "Population and business growth has had an enormous impact on telecommunications service. Competition has driven growth in the demand for telephone numbers, with many customers having more than one handset. As the nation's ICT policy and regulatory body, ictQATAR is ensuring that businesses and individual consumers will be able to access a broad range of network services for years to come."
The change to eight digit numbers will happen automatically and seamlessly on July 28, 2010 for all customers - whether Qtel or Vodafone - with no interruption of service or affect on both networks.
For both fixed and mobile users, the first digit of the number will be repeated, so that numbers that currently begin with 3 will now start with 33, those starting with 7 will now be 77. The only affected numbers will be those starting with 3,4,5,6 and 7.
All emergency telephone numbers within Qatar, including 999 and 112, will not be affected by the change. Numbers used for SMS, toll free and paging services, as well as short codes, and the numbers owned by the Ministry of Interior will also remain the same. These begin with 1, 2, 8 and 9.
For a period of three months after July 28, people who dial the current seven digit numbers will receive an automated recorded message asking them to dial again with the correct new eight digit number. The country code will not be affected by the change. International callers will simply have to dial the first digit of the subscriber's phone number twice after the '974' country code.
ictQATAR is working closely with Qatar's telecommunications operators -- Qtel and Vodafone -- as well as the International Telecommunications Union and other international stakeholders to create awareness of the upcoming changes.
In addition, both Qtel and Vodafone are guiding their customers through the transition. Qtel customer service line can be reached by dialing 111 whilst Vodafone customers can dial 111 from their mobile phone and speak to a Customer Care Champion. If Vodafone customers are calling from another number and not their Vodafone mobile, they should dial 800 7111.
Information on the numbering changes including frequently asked questions is available at www.ictQATAR.qa
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