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11 March 2009 08:19 am

Vodafone happy with smooth launch

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Vodafone Qatar said it is very much satisfied with the results of the testing and feedback from the first customers connected to its network. Vodafone Qatar also said it will announce a new date for its delayed initial public offering as soon as it gets the approval from the government. “Everything is on and going well. We’ve had a lot of input and we got the results of the testing and everything is much better than we expected,” said Grahame Maher, chief executive officer of Vodafone Qatar. Vodafone Qatar “officially” connected the “first 100 customers” to its network yesterday. The 100 customers were picked from the 1,000 selected by Vodafone Qatar through a special promotion. The rest will be linked to the network over the following days. “The 1,000 customers are our first commercial customers and we will be ‘commercially’ charging on March 16,” said Maher, who said the Vodafone numbers released can already call local Vodafone and Qtel numbers but full-scale service will be available only in the following weeks. The first 1,000 Vodafone customers can avail of some Vodafone Qatar promotions. Calls will be at Dh55 per minute and text messaging/SMS is at Dh40 during the two-month promotion. “We are testing our radio sites and we would like to put up more temporary, as well as long-term lease sites. We hope to add more sites every month until we obtain good coverage across the country,” said Maher, who said the company is thinking of having around 10 to 12 Vodafone shops in the country. In a local report, Vodafone stated around four Vodafone shops will be opened in May. It also stated Vodafone already has many sites approved by the Urban Planning and Development Authority. Maher said everything is “going smoothly.” The Vodafone Qatar CEO said the company will be announcing a new date for its delayed initial public offering. The company planned to sell a 40 percent stake in the operator in November last year, but did not get the required approvals from the Qatar Financial Markets Authority due to the not-so-good market conditions. “It was put on hold last year because of the economic situation. The government decided to put it on hold since November last year. I would like to announce the new date on the 15th of this month,” Maher said. According to a wire report, Vodafone, which won the bid for Qatar’s second mobile phone licence for $2.12bn in December 2007, also intends to sell a 15 percent stake in the business to local institutional investors, leaving it and local partner Qatar Foundation with 45 percent. http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Local_News&subsection=Qatar+News&month=March2009&file=Local_News200903116163.xml