Browsing 'CRA' News

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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

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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?

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Shabina S. Khatri

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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.

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?