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Vodafone Qatar

Vodafone Qatar

July 18 12pm: This story was updated to add a new statement from Vodafone Qatar

A government body has launched an inquiry after Vodafone Qatar customers were left without service for more than 18 hours yesterday.

Vodafone’s network was partially restored on Monday evening and the company said it had been working through the night to bring it fully up to speed today.

In a statement released to the public on Twitter this morning, the company apologised for its “brief communication” with customers yesterday due to “rapidly unfolding” events.

It added that network engineers from the company’s “global partners” had flown into Qatar in try to restore full service more quickly.

Compensation promise

In a series of tweets, Vodafone Qatar also said that it now had a “compensation plan” in place:

The company now has three days to send a detailed investigation report to the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA).

In a statement yesterday, the CRA added that Vodafone is “bound by its license to provide customers with appropriate compensation for this disruption of service.”

Outrage

According to Vodafone, its network went down due to “technical issues” following a “routine upgrade” early Monday morning.

The telecom provider did give an accurate timeframe for when its network would be restored, however.

This lack of communication irked many of its 1.5 million customers. Some have even threatened to switch to competitor Ooredoo.

Vodafone now has until July 20 to tell the CRA:

  • What caused the outage;
  • To what extent it affected customers;
  • What steps were taken to resolve the issue; and
  • What measures will be put in place to prevent such outages from happening again.

Thoughts?

Video still via ictQatar

For illustrative purposes only

Qatar residents filed over 3,500 complaints against Ooredoo and Vodafone last year, but most of them were deemed “invalid” by the country’s Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA).

The complaints were mostly related to billing, delays in service activation, poor network coverage, roaming charges and spam calls and texts.

Of the 3,504 complaints lodged in 2016, 2,058 were thrown out for not meeting the necessary criteria.

Daniel Foster/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only

The CRA said 94 percent of the remaining 1,446 complaints have been resolved, and the rest should be figured out within “the coming weeks.”

According to CRA President Mohammed Ali Al-Mannai, the body is working with telecom providers to improve communication services in Qatar.

“Soon, CRA intends to launch a new interactive complaints management system to make it more convenient for consumers to lodge and monitor complaints,” he said in a statement.

Filing a complaint

Consumers are invited to approach the CRA if they are unable to reach a solution with their telecom provider after first lodging a complaint with them.

Residents should include contact details, the complaint reference number they filed with their service provider, copies of relevant documents such as bills or receipts and other information, as detailed here.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Photo of mobile spam for illustrative purposes only.

The CRA said after receiving the necessary details, it will investigate and keep consumers updated with what’s happening.

However, it appears the body can only operate in an advisory role, following up with telecom providers on the problems raised.

It cannot get involved in any private legal disputes on behalf of consumers or force service providers to take any particular action.

Have you tried filing a complaint with the CRA? Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Shabina S. Khatri

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ooredoo Qatar has denounced an official report from the state’s telecom watchdog as unbalanced and containing “grave errors.”

The service provider was ordered this month to share access to its infrastructure with the state-owned Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN).

In a lengthy and unusually strongly-worded report, Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) censured Ooredoo for denying access, calling the action “reprehensible.”

But Ooredoo has responded publicly this week by saying QNBN undertook “illicit use” of its ducts.

And this morning, CRA has removed the decision from its website.

Ooredoo response

In a detailed response, Ooredoo “expressed its disappointment” at the CRA’s decision.

It said it was a “responsible organization that abides by the rules” and has been cooperating with the regulator, in anticipation of a final agreement.

“However, the CRA has opted to make this commercial dispute into a public discussion, so Ooredoo is compelled to make the facts public,” it added.

Ooredoo headquarters

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Ooredoo headquarters

In its statement, Ooredoo said it had not refused rivals access to its infrastructure.

However, it also said it would only resume its access agreement with QNBN after the broadband organization took certain steps.

That includes compensating Ooredoo for its access.

The provider also said that the CRA made “grave errors” by making last-minute changes to the sharing agreements:

“Such modifications may expose our network to mismanagement and would negatively impact the quality of services that we offer to our customers…

Our experience with QNBN shows that we need to be very careful in allowing third parties to utilize our networks,” it added.

In response to criticism that it was being anti-competitive, Ooredoo denied that it was to blame for the limited competition in the fixed line market in Qatar.

Instead, it blamed the CRA for failing to properly enforce licenses issued by Vodafone and QNBN.

Such action “has denied Qatar the diversified and second network that it deserves and that other countries enjoy,” it said.

QNBN complaints

QNBN lodged an official complaint with the CRA in March this year over the access issue.

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

QNBN

QNBN/Flickr

QNBN

It blamed Ooredoo for damaging the country’s economic development and driving up prices for consumers.

In two further documents, dated Sept. 4 but which were only published on the CRA website today, the regulator also issued Ooredoo with notices of non-compliance.

These state that Ooredoo has continued to ignore CRA requests for information. According to one of them:

“Ooredoo’s failure to provide the information requested constitutes a breach and violation of the law and consequential non-compliance with the Telecommunications Law as well as the terms of its license.”

Breaking this law can result in criminal prosecution, a fine and/or the start of a process to change the terms of its operating license, the CRA warned.

The deadline to follow the orders has now passed, but a CRA spokesman was unable to tell Doha News whether Ooredoo has complied.

The end of both letters state that CRA reserves the right to publish the documents “in the interest of transparency and non-discrimination.”

However, these notices have also now been removed from the CRA’s website.

Thoughts?

Note: This article has been edited to reflect that the CRA reinstated the Ooredoo Order to its website on Sept. 28.