Offer to switch to Shafaf ends on Friday

Woqod’s discount for customers who use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and wish to switch to the green-topped Shafaf cylinders expires on Friday.

The petrol company has been trying to wean residents off of the cheaper but less safe metal cylinders of gas by discounting the price of Shafaf. Instead of QR365, customers who switch by Sept. 30 can pay QR265 for the plastic containers, Gulf Times reports.

To switch, one can either walk over to a Sidra store or designated supermarkets to take home the cylinders. There is also a home delivery service.

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The Al Rayyan TBM.

Chantelle D'Mello

The Al Rayyan TBM.

In a major milestone for the country, Qatar Rail has completed drilling work on the Doha Metro.

Digging out 111km of tunnels for the first phase of the public transportation system took about two years, according to QNA.

To accomplish this, Qatar Rail employed the use of 21 massive tunnel-boring machines (TBMs), the first of which arrived in the country in April 2014.

Overall work on the metro is now 50 percent complete, Qatar’s Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti said.

The company has already begun focusing on installing electrical equipment and completing the structure of the 37 stations that make up the first phase.

By the third of quarter of next year, the first train is scheduled to be delivered to Qatar Rail. And the metro is slated to open to passenger traffic in late 2019 or early 2020.

It will initially be comprised of three lines: red, green and gold.

What’s next

During an event yesterday, Qatar Rail’s chairman and managing director thanked everyone who contributed to the achievement.

Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Turki Al Subaie added that the company “will continue its march with known dedication and firm commitment to achieve the vision of providing an integrated world-class railway services,” QNA reports.

A rendering of Doha Metro station

Qatar Rail

A rendering of Doha Metro station

Over the next year, Qatar Rail aims to make progress on track installations and award several operator contracts, the company said in its 2015-2016 Annual Report.

It also plans to develop operational readiness procedures and revenue generation models.

Thoughts?

Closure at Rasheeda Interchange on Al Shamal Road

Ashghal

Closure at Rasheeda Interchange on Al Shamal Road

Al Shamal Road’s Rasheeda interchange near Al Khor will close on Tuesday, Sept. 27 for two months, Ashghal has announced.

The closure will include the junction’s bridge and ramps as roads on the interchange are upgraded to connect with recently-constructed service routes.

Motorists will be diverted to the next intersection further north on the road, at Umm Leshkhoot.

They can then take service roads between the two junctions to access local roads, the public works authority added in a statement.

Ooredoo headquarters

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Ooredoo headquarters

Qatar’s largest telecom provider has damaged the country’s economic development and driven up prices for consumers by engaging in “anti-competitive” conduct, the nation’s communications watchdog has said.

In a strongly-worded formal decision issued this month, the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has censured Ooredoo for not giving rival firms access to its infrastructure.

The regulator said the telecom provider’s actions have negatively affected the state-owned Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN) and Vodafone.

By refusing to allow these groups access to its ducts, Ooredoo “prevented development of competition,” the CRA ruled in a 41-page order.

“In doing so, Ooredoo is likely to have maintained artificially high prices for consumers,” the CRA added.

Fiber network

For the past five years, QNBN has been working to install a comprehensive fiber network for high-speed internet across the country, but is making slow progress.

The infrastructure is for use by any telecom provider in Qatar, but would most benefit Vodafone, as Ooredoo has already laid much of its own network.

In 2013, a QNBN spokesperson told Doha News that talks were ongoing about compensating Ooredoo for use of its infrastructure.

At the time, he added that if QNBN had control of the network, both Ooredoo and Vodafone would then be free to “focus on what they do best – providing service, innovation, and customer care.”

A year later however, QNBN entered talks to be acquired by Vodafone, but the deal fell through suddenly.

Complaint

It appears that despite being told to do so in 2013, Ooredoo is not granting the necessary access to Vodafone or QNBN, which lodged a complaint in March this year.

It claimed that Ooredoo was, for the second time, not allowing the broadband organization to use its infrastructure ducts.

QNBN

QNBN/Flickr

QNBN

Not having access to existing infrastructure means Vodafone and QNBN would need to dig their own trenches and lay their own cables.

This is why it’s faster and more cost-effective to share, the CRA said.

QNBN has claimed Ooredoo’s failure to allow rivals to access the fixed telecoms market has led to QR750,000 in lost revenue each month.

This could cost the group more than QR92 million in revenue in 2017 and 2018, it added.

Competition

Siding with QNBN, the CRA said Ooredoo’s action “threatens to eliminate effective competition in the downstream fixed and mobile markets.”

It continued:

“Such behavior is even more reprehensible in that it jeopardizes the decision of the state of Qatar to build a passive infrastructure open to all service providers…”

For its part, Ooredoo said QNBN had breached their agreement by failing to pay an invoice.

However, the CRA rejected this defense.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Vodafone Qatar / Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The regulator has now ordered Ooredoo to fulfill all existing requests for access to its infrastructure and to submit a monthly report detailing the number of requests for access.

It has also been required to lodge a QR15 million performance bond to ensure its compliance with the order.

Doha News has asked Ooredoo for a comment on the report.

Thoughts?