UN report: Qatar has priciest internet, phone services in GCC

Qatari Riyals

Omar Chatriwala

Residents in Qatar pay some of the highest rates in the Gulf for telecom services like phone and internet, according to a new study released this month from the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency.

But because the country has one of the highest average incomes in the world, it still fared well in the Measuring the Information Society 2013, which tracks the cost and affordability of ICT services in about 160 countries.

According to the study, Qatar led the Middle East in the terms of ICT development last year, with a global ranking of 31st. It was followed close by the UAE (33rd), and then Bahrain (39th), Saudi Arabia (50th) and Lebanon (52nd).

But according to the raw data, the cost of ICT services remains high, relative to the rest of the GCC. Qatar Tribune reports:

“The price of a local text message is $0.03 in Oman, $0.05 in the UAE, $0.07 in Saudi Arabia, $0.09 in Bahrain and $0.11 in Qatar. The price of each minute from a mobile to a landline is $0.08 in the UAE, $0.12 in Bahrain, $0.14 in Oman and $0.15 in Saudi Arabia and Qatar…

The monthly subscription for a broadband landline is $25.97 in Oman, $26.60 in Bahrain, $39.73 in Saudi Arabia, $40.57 in the UAE and $54.95 in Qatar.”

According to the report, Qatar’s rates are high in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), which takes into account the buying power of local currency.

But it added that costs remain a fraction of average income. For that reason, the report ranked Qatar favorably in terms of fixed-broadband prices, which are dropping universally, and mobile broadband prices, which are typically expensive in the developing world.

However, the study does not take into account that incomes in Qatar vary widely, with the average figure being pulled up largely due to steep salary increases given to nationals in the public sector and many locals in the private sector in 2011.

Here’s the full report:


Credit: Photo by the roof anarchist

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