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Wed 4 Nov 2009 02:21 PM

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Vodafone Qatar eyes fixed line launch in late 2010

UPDATE 1: Telco says its H1 operating loss widened amid increased start-up costs.

Telecom operator
Vodafone Qatar

said on Wednesday it was aiming to launch its fixed line service in late 2010.

"The consortium is currently working through the pre-grant requirements specified by ictQATAR prior to being awarded the licence," the company said in an announcement to the Doha Stock Exchange website.

"The management anticipate that this could be finished by the end of November 2009 to enable the first fixed services to be launched in late 2010."

The statement added that in September 2008 the country's telecom's regulator ictQatar announced that a consortium consisting of the Vodafone Group and the Qatar Foundation had been the winning applicant for Qatar's second fixed line licence.

However, no licence has been awarded yet by the regulator.

Last week, the company announced that more than 250,000 customers had signed up for mobile phone services since launching in July.

The company, which is going head-to-head with established telco
Qtel

, said that 100,000 customers signed up in the last month alone.

Grahame Maher, chief executive officer,
Vodafone Qatar

, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the progress we have made in building our customer base which has significantly exceeded our forecasts."

Separately, Vodafone Qatar said on Wednesday its half-year operating loss widened to 347.5 million riyals ($95.52 million) on increased operational start-up costs.

It said it made a bigger loss on earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for the six months to September 30, compared with the same period last year, when it recorded a loss of 37.5 million riyals.

Earnings before interest, taxation, amortisation and depreciation (EBITDA) was a loss of 156.2 million riyals compared with a loss of 37.5 million riyals last year, and included the amortisation of the 7.7 billion riyal mobile licence over 20 years beginning in May 2009.

The firm, which listed on the Qatar bourse in July, said in a statement it was on track to be EBITDA-positive in the year ending March 31 2011.

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