The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) Qatar has released its first annual report highlighting the progress CRA has made in promoting competition and safeguarding the interest of consumers, contributing to Qatar’s transition to a smart, digitally connected nation with a growing, diversified economy.
“I am pleased to inform all stakeholders about CRA’s achievements and progress since it was established in 2014. I would like to extend our gratitude and thanks to HH The Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani for his strong leadership. CRA is also grateful for the support and co-operation it receives from all ministries and government bodies as it carries out its mandate,” said Mohammed Ali Al-Mannai, President of CRA.
“As the report outlines, the hallmarks of Qatar’s regulatory framework will remain predictability and clarity, ensuring that Qatar continually enhances its rich landscape of services. We will continue to analyse the state of competition in the telecommunications market and determine where further measures are needed to develop communications services, including in the fixed market,” he added.
The report highlights that the telecom market is healthy and growing, and investment in the sector remains strong, with increased revenues, new products, and overall net profits. Total market revenue reached QAR 10,064 million in 2015 and fixed-line and mobile subscriptions (including broadband) reached around 5 million in 2015. (Readers can view the detailed report here)
Both Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar invested in their networks with the launch of LTE/LTE+ networks in 2014–15. Competition in mobile has developed, although competition in fixed has yet to fully emerge, which will impact the future growth of that sector. Fiber broadband connection speeds reach up to 100 Mbps. Qatar has one of the highest mobile SIM penetration rates in the world, and competition has brought significant uptake in mobile data services.
Consumers are benefiting from wide-ranging consumer protection efforts, including a dispute resolution mechanism, a new advertising code of conduct, the Consumer Protection Policy (CPP), and a mobile app—Arsel—that allows dissatisfied consumers to send instant comments and feedback to CRA directly. While a great deal of work has been done in the area of consumer rights, CRA is continuing to strengthen the codes and frameworks that will protect consumers in the future.
A robust regulatory and legal framework that supports the development of the sector continues to be put in place. A recently developed competition policy framework is aimed at creating a certain and stable environment in which market participants understand under what circumstances CRA will undertake investigations into anti-competitive behavior—targeted at segments that pose challenges in the delivery of effective competition and good outcomes for consumers.
A quality of service (QoS) framework is being developed so that the performance obligations of networks and service providers are clear. Terms and conditions for access to and/or sharing of civil infrastructure have been put in place. In addition, CRA is focusing on regulation in wholesale markets to decrease retail regulation, which is expected to benefit fixed in particular, and to reproduce some of the steady growth in mobile. The intent is to gradually remove, where possible, intrusive regulation at the retail level to encourage service providers to develop better services and innovative products.