By George Bevir
Qatar’s second mobile operator officially opens for business
Vodafone Qatar has launched the mobile tariffs it hopes will persuade mobile users in Qatar to ditch incumbent operator Qtel in favour of Vodafone.
From today, Vodafone Qatar customers will be able to choose from prepaid “Flexi” or the postpaid “Freedom” plan, with Vodafone’s prepaid tariffs broadly similar to those offered by Qtel.
Vodafone customers will pay one single rate of QR0.50 ($0.13) for local calls, whereas Qtel currently charges QR0.55 for a peak rate call and QR0.45 for off peak calls. The cost per local SMS is the same with both operators, at QR0.04
International calls made to destinations within the GCC cost between QR2.19 and QR1.53 with Qtel, while calls to destinations outside the GCC cost between QR3.19 and QR2.09. With Vodafone, they will cost a flat rate of QR2.50. International SMS is the same with both operators, at QR0.60.
“With Vodafone Flexi customers will always get much more than they paid for,” Michael Portz, Vodafone Qatar’s chief marketing officer said.
“Every Flexi plan is packed with bonus value and loads of free Vodafone minutes. Vodafone’s customers will get up to 68% more with Flexi.”
As of the end of last year, Qtel had 1.6 million mobile users, which equates to a penetration rate of 116%. As with many countries in the Middle East, analysts expect this figure to rise as a result of multiple Sim ownership as users look to take advantage of the operators’ different deals.
Vodafone Qatar was awarded the second mobile licence in June last year. The network was turned on in March, and since then, more than 1000 customers have been trialing the network in advance of its full commercial launch.
Vodaphone should be able to take 90% of the market by just simply offering a proper service backed by professional support. Almost the entire population of Qatar has, at some time, had a (very pleasant and professional) Qtel support staffer take their contact number and promise that an expert will phone back. Unfortunately, everybody is still waiting for this mystery "expert" to call them back. Couple that with a mobile service that, after decades of overpricing calls, still doesn't seem to penetrate areas of what is, after all, a very small city and you can see why it won't take much of an effort for Vodafone to take over a good chunk of the business from Qtel as long as they don't rely on Qtel for anything remotely technical. Competition is good for business and good for the customers so I wish both companies well and grateful thanks to the government of the state for allowing this to happen.
Have been a Vodafone user in Australia (I still am); Having worked for the industry I know the sham-scam-ponzi-schemes that companies dish out. Free minutes is one such. A word of caution to subscribers, dont take 'virtual' benefits- anything tangible is fine. Vodafone seems to have plugged in Revenue Assurance pretty strongly with its tariff regime- subscribers are sure to cough up a lot more in a country that is probably the costliest in the world...Ask an inroamer; I traveled to Qatar from Australia earlier this earlier and my bills were simply mindboggling. While clocking a decent subscriber base will be top priority on the new player's agenda- this definitely is not a way to go. Let people use your network before u begin milking them. You have the capacity to hit out at Qtel, do it in right earnest.