Ooredoo, Vodafone cut local calling rates to 10 Dhs/min until October

Phone tweet

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Qatar’s two telecom providers, Ooredoo and Vodafone, have simultaneously announced a new promotion for customers, lowering the cost of phone calls to 10Dhs/min until around Eid Al Adha.

Ooredoo’s discount applies until Oct. 12, to landline and mobile phone users who call other Ooredoo users. However, the deal is only open to Hala Smart Pack and Hala International Saver Key customers. Those applicable will automatically be signed up to the deal at no extra cost.

Vodafone’s discount ends on Oct. 11, but its customers can call people using either provider. In order to take advantage of the offer, users must subscribe for QR1 a week by dialing *200*10#. Unlike Ooredoo, Vodafone’s offer is open to all of its prepaid customers.

It is unclear how the two providers happen to be offering such similar promotions.

Speaking of the coincidence, a Vodafone-Qatar spokesperson told Doha News:

“Vodafone aims to always lead the market in innovative services and best value. We certainly do not share plans or coordinate activity with our competitor.”

New authority

Previously, Ooredoo and Vodafone had to refer to the country’s information technology minister, ictQatar, when offering promotions and changing service prices.

Ooredoo, as the incumbent, must seek approval prior to launching a campaign, while Vodafone is subject to regulation after offering its promotions.

However, in April, a separate entity called Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) was formed as part of Emiri Decree No. 42 of 2014. The entity still falls under ictQatar, but can make decisions independent of the ministry.

CRA’s mandate involves regulates telecoms, postal services and access to digital media and spectrum.

Speaking to Doha News, a spokesperson at CRA said:

“As a regulator looking to support and encourage competition in the telecoms market in Qatar, the Communications Regulatory Authority does not set prices. However, we stand ready to intervene if we feel that the prices are uncompetitive or not in the best interests of the telecoms consumers in Qatar.”

Disputes

Prior to CRA’s establishment, public disputes were not uncommon between the country’s telecom providers and ictQatar over its control of providers’ operations.

In the past, ictQatar has ruled Ooredoo (then known as Qtel) to immediately shut down all its Virgin Mobile-branded services, giving them just under eight weeks to transfer all Virgin customers SIM cards or refund them for the value of the card (QR35) as well as any credit balance on their account.

More recently, Ooredoo came under ictQatar’s grasp when it demanded Ooredoo to immediately stop all advertising for its “4G For Free Forever” campaign. IctQatar’s reasoning was that “the advertisement is in fact misleading and it creates the perception that the 4G service and data are for free.”

Ooredoo reacted by unusually complaining about the manner in which ictQatar had chosen to act. In a statement, the provider publicly stated:

“Ooredoo believes it should be an impartial arbiter, applying fair rules for the benefit of the people of Qatar, and applying these rules equally and without prejudice.”

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