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Vodafone Qatar

Vodafone Qatar

After nine days of outages, Vodafone Qatar is now completely back online and has launched a compensation scheme for customers.

In a statement today, the telecom provider thanked users for their “loyalty,” apologized for the disruption and announced a new You First program.

The scheme offers both post- and pre-paid customers free data, and traveling Vodafone Passport holders a full refund.

On July 17, the company’s network went down, causing a loss of voice and data services for nearly two days.

The company said this had been caused by “technical issues” while carrying out upgrade work to its systems. Over the course of the next week, services were slowly restored, first 2G and then 3G.

Finally yesterday, its entire network, including 4G, was back up and running.

CEO Ian Gray announced the compensation scheme today, saying “sorry is not just a word.”

Compensation scheme

Vodafone said active users of its Postpaid services will get a one-off compensation of 30 percent of next month’s bill. They will also receive 6GB free a month for the next three months.

Existing Prepaid customers will receive 500 Flex for free for five days, and this can be used for local or international calls, data or SMSs.

“Flex will be added to Prepaid customers in batches within the next 2 weeks. Customers will receive an SMS with the date of when the benefit will be added to their account,” Vodafone said in an online statement detailing the compensation arrangements.

Postpaid customers will also be compensated automatically.

Meanwhile, users who were traveling overseas during the outage, and who had activated a Passport pack will be refunded for the value of the roaming pack.

Investigation

The failure of services was met with frustration and anger by many of Vodafone Qatar’s 1.5 million customers.

Some were particularly riled by the company’s initial lack of communication as the outage happened.

Gray issued a video statement last Tuesday, as the outage was into its second day, apologizing to customers for the disruption and admitting that the network and its backup had both failed following an upgrade.

Vodafone Qatar

Ian Gray, Vodafone CEO

The telecom provider flew in parts from across the world and collaborated with technicians internationally to fix the issue, he said.

At that time, Vodafone had promised to announce a compensation plan “within 24 hours of service restoration.”

Qatar’s telecoms watchdog, the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA), called on Vodafone Qatar to issue a full report on the incident by July 20, including what steps it has put in place to avoid similar outages in future.

The details of this have yet to be publicly revealed.

Were you affected by the Vodafone Qatar outage? Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Omar Chatriwala

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

After several disappointing financial quarters, Qatar-based telecoms provider Ooredoo has replaced its longtime group chief executive, the company has announced.

Ooredoo, which was previously known as Qtel, also operates in countries including Kuwait, Tunisia, Maldives, Algeria, the Palestinian territories, Myanmar and Oman.

The reorganization comes as the group reported a rise of more than 100 percent in third-quarter net income last month.

However, it posted declining profits in six out of the previous eight quarters due to foreign exchange losses and difficulties in Iraq and Tunisia, Reuters reports.

Nasser Mohammed Marafih, who held the post of group CEO of Ooredoo since 2006, will step down from the role and be replaced by Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, Ooredoo said.

Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, Ooredoo Group CEO

Injaz Qatar

Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, Ooredoo Group CEO

Al Thani has been with Ooredoo (and previously Qtel) since 1990, and held the title of CEO of Ooredoo Qatar since 2011, according to the telecom firm’s website.

Prior to that, he was the telecom firm’s executive director for group human resources and acting executive director for general services.

He has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Western International University in Phoenix, Arizona.

Marafih, whose career with then-Qtel spans 23 years, will become a member of Ooredoo’s board of directors as an advisor to the board’s chairman. He will replace Omer Abdulaziz Al-Hamed Al-Marwani, the company statement added.

There has also been a shakeup of other senior management positions.

The roles of CEO of Ooredoo Qatar and deputy group chief executive will be taken by Waleed Mohamed Al-Sayed. Meanwhile, Yousuf Abdulla Al Kubaisi has replaced Al-Sayed as chief operations officer of Ooredoo Qatar.

Ooredoo Chairman Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Bin Saud al Thani paid thanks to Marafih for his “persistence and hard work,” adding: “we look forward to benefit from his service and expertise at the board.”

He continued:

“I also want to wish Sheikh Saud Bin Nasser Al Thani success in leading the Group at this exciting period which will witness a lot of developments in the telecoms industry.”

Vodafone troubles

Meanwhile, the boss of Qatar’s other telecoms firm Vodafone has spoken out about its recent poor performance, with its ongoing lack of profit and share prices dropping 38 percent since the start of the year.

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East, CEO Kyle Whitehill blamed in part Qatar’s slowing population growth, which he said was eating into revenue.

Kyle Whitehead, CEO Vodafone Qatar

Vodafone Qatar

Kyle Whitehill, CEO Vodafone Qatar

As a result, the break-even point for the firm, which was supposed to be reached this year, has been pushed back at least two more years.

“The market has deflated, falling from 10 per cent growth year-over-year last year to 3 per cent (this year),” Whitehill reportedly said.

Vodafone’s failed attempt to buy state-owned Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN) at the end of last year has not helped its fortunes.

It first announced its intentions to acquire QNBN last October, saying it had entered into a “non-binding agreement” with Information Communication Technology Holdings Q.S.C. (ICTH).

However, just a month later it announced it was pulling out.

The deal was reportedly worth some QR210 (US$57.7) million, based on 21 million shares at a value of QR10 ($2.75) per share.

Whitehill also commented on tumbling global oil prices and declining government revenues. The new economics have reignited discussion on the possibility of introducing some form of VAT or taxation, something Vodafone isn’t currently liable for.

If such taxation came into play, the official described “the big implication” of this as the cost of employees and equipment.

“It’s such a high-cost country that attracting an employee to come work and live here hugely inflates the cost of the employee versus any other country,” Whitehill said.

Thoughts?

For illustrative purposes only.

MarylandGovPics/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

New legislation is being considered to give Qatar’s telecoms watchdog the ability to fine service providers that break the law.

In its weekly meeting yesterday, the Cabinet approved a draft law amending some provisions of the telecommunications law No. 34 of 2006, which would give the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) new powers to sanction erring telecoms companies, QNA reports.

Under the proposed changes, the CRA would be able to set up a committee, headed by a court judge, to rule on whether company has violated the law and to fine it for the offense.

The draft law will go to the Advisory Council (Shura) for its input and is still some way off being enacted. If they are, the recommended changes would strengthen the CRA’s current ability to take meaningful action against firms.

The CRA was set up last April under Emiri Decree as an independent regulatory arm of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQatar) and is responsible for telecoms, access to digital media and the postal service.

Its remit is to enforce the Advertising, Marketing and Branding Code, introduced in September last year, as a means of improving transparency in telecom marketing campaigns.

However, under the existing legislation, the Communications Regulatory Authority cannot penalize companies that it finds in violation of the law, which means telecom providers could ignore its decisions and directives.

Vodafone action

The CRA’s first show of action came last month, when it censured Vodafone Qatar for its recent “3 months free” promotion for postpaid packages, which the watchdog called  “inaccurate and misleading.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Vodafone / Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

At the time, CRA called on Vodafone to remove or reword the advertisements. However, the provider has challenged the ruling, denying the campaign was misleading and criticized the CRA’s decision-making process.

Vodafone said that it planned to take the decision to the Appeals Committee.

The Advertising Code was introduced to ensure all advertising and marketing undertaken by telecoms providers is “fair, accurate and truthful” and is not confusing to customers.

It warns that marketing to customers must not be intrusive, customer privacy should be protected, all terms and conditions should be clearly explained to customers before the point of sale, and providers must clearly and honestly give a breakdown of all pricing.

Thoughts?