Strategising for a digital future

CRA Qatar on balancing consumer rights and operator profits
H.E. Mohammed Ali Al-Mannai,  president, CRA Qatar
H.E. Mohammed Ali Al-Mannai, president, CRA Qatar


CRA has begun the year 2017 with the launch of automated spectrum monitoring and frequency management systems, to ensure management of the radio spectrum usage in Qatar. Qatar National Vision 2030 provides a solid foundation for CRA’s strategies and management of scarce resources, says H.E. Mohammed Ali Al-Mannai, president, CRA Qatar.

So, what’s the prime objective that defines the working of CRA in the current scenario? “My aim is to make sure that when future regulations are formulated, all investments in the sector complement each other, privacy concerns are addressed and customers benefit from the whole process. Most importantly, CRA shall continue to be consistent and transparent in the way it regulates the sectors within its mandate.”

An initiative of the CRA has been to encourage increased uptake of Qatari domain names by local businesses and institutions. “The more home-grown businesses are online using unique Qatari domain names, the better the visibility for the nation in the global market. It’s a win win for all,” says Al Mannai.

One of the most important focus areas for any regulator in the current market scenario is spectrum management. Recent years have witnessed a significant growth in the demand for various uses of radio spectrum, and that also not just from consumers, but also from various industry sectors as well. In fact, the challenge among regulators worldwide is to find enough spectrum for future radio applications and next-generation networks such as 5G. In this realm, CRA considers the NFAP (National Frequency Allocation Plan) to be an important achievement up its sleeve. Al Mannai says: “Radio spectrum usage is a scarce resource that ultimately impacts the development of many sectors, so careful management of this resource is critical. The plan was finalised taking into consideration the current and future requirements of various sectors and in consultation with all the relevant industry stakeholders and reviewed by the Qatar National Spectrum Coordination Committee (QNSCC).”

Al Mannai further adds how the NFAP integrates planning of new mobile broadband technologies, public protection and disaster relief measures, unmanned aircraft systems, global flight tracking, maritime safety, amateur radio, and other areas of focus at the International Telecommunication Union’s World Radio communication Conference.

In spite of its small size, Qatar remains one of the progressive telecom markets in the region. With telecommunications being identified as a key enabler of the country’s economic diversification outside of oil and gas, one tends to be curious about the competitive landscape therein. Al Mannai says: “Competition will always be an issue. However, we shall use competition as a means to foster growth and innovation for everyone’s benefit.”

In 2015, a comprehensive competition framework, was laid out to clarify rights and obligations, market definitions and dominance designations for all stakeholders. 2016 focussed on socialisation of this framework, to ensure that all the stakeholders understand its implications. Al Mannai says that in 2017, CRA is engaged in improving understanding of competition and training up the CRA staff. To that end, CRA has developed a training platform. The regulator will also continue the socialisation process for the benefits of competition through additional workshops with relevant stakeholder groups. Al Mannai adds that the CRA is developing an implementation plan for competition policy that focuses on areas where competition would have the greatest impact on growth and innovation.

CRA has made good progress towards supporting Qatar’s transition to a connected digital economy. Al Mannai says the plan is to build on the strong momentum built in the last few years. He adds that he will personally ensure this momentum continues to open doors for innovations and new business models in the market.

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