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Posted On: 29 May 2008 10:20 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:08 pm

Vodafone's finalized bid

Khalifa Al Haroon
Khalifa Al Haroon
Your friendly neighborhood Qatari
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Vodafone Qatar is counting on its vast experience in the telecommunications field in 42 countries to give Qatar Telecom (Qtel) a fight for a share in the mobile telephony and Internet market. At a press conference held yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel, Grahame Maher, Vodafone Qatar CEO and Rashid Al Naimi, Vice-President (Administration) of the Qatar Foundation (QF), said the new entity would be ready to give Qtel competition. Vodafone and QF paired up to form a consortium which won the bid for the country's second mobile licence at a cost of QR7.72bn. This is Vodafone's first mobile start-up business in 10 years and will start operations in the first quarter of next year. The QR7.72bn seems an exorbitant amount to pay, especially keeping in mind Qatar's small market. However, Maher said: “We have been accused of paying too much every time we buy a licence. This is speculation by analysts who do not know what they are talking about. We believe it is a good business and investment.” A board of directors will soon be formed comprising nine members. Four will be drawn from Vodafone ranks, two from QF, one will represent the Qatari government and the remaining two will be elected from among shareholders. Asked on why it took so long for an announcement to be made on the amount paid for the licence by the consortium, Maher said: “The way the regulator (ictQATAR) discloses it is up to them. We only do this through global announcements. We are very comfortable with the licensing process.” Studies have been carried out on the Qatari market and the process is ongoing. Not yet ready to disclose anything in terms of services to be offered or tariffs, Vodafone is first waiting to receive the licence and then getting things off the ground before making any announcements. The licence is expected to be handed over at the end of next month. Maher said: “We have the benefit of starting from the beginning. We will have the highest technical capability from day one and we will be focusing on services and how to deploy these.” A spot of good news is as per ictQATAR's guidelines, Vodafone will adopt Mobile Number Portability, which means if someone switches from a Qtel account to Vodafone, he or she will retain the mobile phone number and vice versa. Maher also said Vodafone is yet to determine which digit its phone numbers will start with. Maher said: “I guarantee serious competition. We will bring in new services and tariffs, all of which will be made known to the media once we get ready to start up.” Announcements will also be made on the company's recruitment. An official told The Peninsula as per law, Vodafone will follow the 20 percent Qatarisation norm. Among the services that could be offered by the new operator would be 'Vodafone Passport, which allows for flat rate roaming calls and 'Vodafone Live”, a mobile Internet application while pricing options could include a bundling of services for a certain fee and there may be handsets exclusively for Vodafone users. An intriguing battle lies ahead with Vodafone expected to spend millions on advertsing and marketing. On the other hand, local boys Qtel will be fighting hard to ensure the newcomer does not encroach too deep into its territory.