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14 April 2009 10:49 am

Qtel lashes out at Vodafone over delay blame game

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Qtel has objected to a section of media reports which said the CEO of Vodafone Qatar, Grahame Maher, had suggested that lack of cooperation from Qtel and Qatari authorities are among the reasons for the significant delay in the launch of Vodafone operations in Qatar. “As a long-term supporter of competition in Qatar’s telecommunications sector, Qtel is surprised and disappointed to read the series of recent media reports in which the CEO of Vodafone Qatar, Grahame Maher, suggests that a lack of cooperation from Qtel and Qatari authorities is one of the reasons for the significant delay in the launch of Vodafone operations in Qatar. These statements are inaccurate and misleading.”, said an official press note issued by Qtel yesterday. Under ictQatar regulations, Qtel has no operational obligation to provide site-sharing support for the expansion of a competitors’ network. However, Qtel has agreed to a widespread site-sharing programme because it believes it is better for both operators, providing cost savings on infrastructure development, and for the nation, by reducing the environmental impact and community inconvenience of multiple towers, the press release said. As a company which has successfully rolled out four wireless networks in the past four years and is currently managing a further three rollouts in different countries — more than Vodafone has achieved globally in the past decade — Qtel believes that the support provided by Qtel has been more than that offered by another incumbent regional operator in terms of the range of services and the speed of delivery, Qtel said in its statement. While we remain solid supporters of the site-sharing programme, competitive operators need to take responsibility for building their own independent network, in order to support full competition in Qatar. In this respect, Vodafone had a clear responsibility to have a plan in place to develop its own network at the time it submitted the bid for the Qatar licence, said Qtel. Vodafone’s decision to end its contract with one existing network vendor and replace with another half-way through the process — the first time we have ever seen this in the industry — has also necessitated ongoing changes and re-negotiation. A new vendor brings with it new technological specifications, forcing many parts of the implementation to begin again, it said. Vodafone Qatar has also changed its international transmission strategy four times in the course of negotiations, necessitating major changes and causing significant delays, Qtel explained. “We believe these decisions are the major reasons for the late launch in the Qatar market, and note the success of operators in other markets, such as Kuwait, launching operations in less time than it has taken Vodafone Qatar, without the range of support provided by Qtel and the Qatar authorities. In spite of these significant challenges, Qtel has provided a consistent team of committed managers and technical support to ensure the smooth integration of the two networks’….. the statement continues.. All agreements have been signed and implemented either on-time or in advance of the timeframe outlined by the regulator, ictQatar…, the statement continues. http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Local_News&subsection=Qatar+News&month=April2009&file=Local_News200904145531.xml