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Some five and a half months after launching 4G LTE mobile internet in Qatar, state-backed telecom company Ooredoo has enabled the service for smartphones.

Officially launched today, the service now also allows prepaid and postpaid Ooredoo customers without an unlimited internet subscription to purchase a monthly “4G key” for QR60.

The key allows users to access the 4G network at Ooredoo’s standard data rates, as long as you are on a “Shahry” postpaid plan, or have subscribed to either a weekly pack or mobile internet pack for prepaid “Hala” customers. Hala customers can pay for the key at a weekly QR15 rate.

Previously the high speed internet service only worked through a USB device or standalone 4G modem. 

The company boasts 4G LTE network speeds are three to six times faster than the existing 3G mobile internet speeds.

Ooredoo’s sole competitor in the country, Vodafone Qatar, has previously said it plans to role out 4G service to its customers next year.

Notably, not all smartphones are compatible with Oooredoo’s 4G LTE network, including some of the most popular brand: Apple iPhones, BlackBerry and Samsung phones. But a number of HTC, Sony Xperia and Nokia Lumia devices work on the supported 800mhz and 2600mhz network bands.

To activate the service, users can SMS “4G” to 114 for postpaid or 121 for prepaid.

Who’s tried it? What do you think?

Credit: Photo by Gazanfarulla Khan

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Ooredoo will roll out its super-fast 4G mobile broadband network across Doha tomorrow, the company has announced.

The service, which is three to six times faster than the existing 3G internet, will allow users to stream high-definition videos and access their high-bandwidth content while on the move. But 4G is only guaranteed to work outdoors, won’t come cheap and doesn’t work on smartphones yet.

To get 4G, customers must first subscribe to Ooredoo’s Unlimited Mobile Broadband service for QR400 a month. Then, to access the 4G service an additional subscription to Ooredoo’s 4G Key is required, which costs QR60 monthly. Users will also have to buy either a QR599 USB stick or a 4G QR999 MiFi device that allows up to 10 devices to be connected at once. 

The best places to use 4G are: The Pearl, Katara, West Bay, the Corniche, Souq Waqif, Aspire Park and Sealine Resort. A map of coverage zones can be found here and full coverage of Qatar is expected to be achieved by the end of 2014. 

According to Ooredoo’s FAQs page:

Ooredoo’s 4G coverage is the strongest outdoors, the indoor coverage varies by construction materials, the design of the building, your position inside. Indoor coverage is our best effort but we cannot guarantee the same speeds as for outdoor coverage.

During this afternoon’s press conference, Oooredoo officials stressed that the rollout is in its preliminary stages. Smartphones will not be able to access the 4G network until at least September, and there is no timeline for offering Shahry and Hala packs, though those are also part of the plan.

Over the past seven months, a few hundred residents have been testing out the service. They will be able to use their Ooredoo-provided devices for free for the next weeks and hold on to them, officials said at a press conference this afternoon.

Do you plan to subscribe to this service?

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo courtesy of Shiva Singh on Twitter

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A mistakenly cut fiber optic cable is the source of mobile and landline disruptions for Ooredoo users in Qatar today, the company has announced.

Service has been restored in some areas of Qatar, and Ooredoo is working to bring other areas back online, it said on Twitter:

It is not immediately clear how many people have been affected by the cut cable or how long it will take to restore services.

Have you been hit by the disruptions?

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Johnathan Lyman