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Friday, March 5, 2021

UN report: Internet prices creeping up in Qatar

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar residents continue to pay the highest prices to access the internet at home and at work in the GCC, according to a recent report by a UN agency.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) found that an average fixed-line broadband plan in 2013 cost the equivalent of US$54.95 a month, up slightly from $54.90 a year earlier.

That’s the highest among the six GCC countries.

While Qatar ranked marginally higher than the UAE ($54.19), prices for broadband internet services here were more than three times as expensive as in Kuwait, which had the lowest average price at $17.27.

The results mirror the ITU’s findings from a year earlier, which also found that Qatar residents were paying among the highest rates in the Gulf for telecom services like phone and internet.

Dr. Hessa Al Jaber
Dr. Hessa Al Jaber

The ITU said levels of competition and regulation are two of the most important factors behind the prices for information and communication technology services.

In Qatar, local authorities have previously said that by 2016, all residents would be able to choose between at least two competing broadband retail providers.

Speaking at the unveiling of Qatar’s national broadband strategy in December 2013, Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber – the country’s minister of information and communications technology – said the impending competition should reduce prices and improve services:

“The speed and affordability of both fixed and mobile broadband remain major issues … (We want to) make the internet available to every citizen regardless of their social or economic situation.”

Affordability

In a wealthy country such as Qatar, the cost of broadband internet services consumes a relatively small portion of a household’s annual income compared to other countries.

Expressed as a percentage of per-capita gross national income, Qatar ranks 14th in the world in internet affordability. That’s the second-best in the GCC, after Kuwait.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, income levels vary greatly in Qatar between highly skilled workers and low-income laborers, which likely plays a role in the digital divide highlighted by ITU.

Citing information from ictQatar, the UN agency said there are “discrepancies” in the levels of access to broadband internet and other technology, such as smartphones, between high-income individuals – namely Qataris and western expats – and laborers.

Overall, the number of households with internet access jumped from 88.1 percent in 2012 to 96.4 percent in 2013, the ITU found.

Thoughts?

13 COMMENTS

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Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

I am using Ooredoo Mifi and I pay 400QAR per month for unlimited data. Not only the price sounds like extortion compared to many other countries (including most Western ones), I also had to pay 1000 riyals to buy the device. In a normal world, you wouldn’t pay more than 200 per month for the unlimited package, and get the Mifi device for free. Not here in Qatar unfortunately!

Osama Alassiry AlMaadeed
Reply to  Yacine

Yes, but the 400 hasn’t increased… It looks like they compared the price of ADSL in 2013 with Fiber in 2014 as “fixed-line broadband internet services”, the customers got more bandwidth for a similar price… maybe more people got it, so that increased the average 5 cents out of 54.90 … an 0.09% increase, less than 0.1%, less than 1 per thousand.

With an inflation of about 3% (I suspect the real number to be higher), an 0.09% increase in prices is a reduction.

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago

I agree Osama but the base cost is still very high despite the static number. Perhaps the gov should reduce the subsidies on fuel and give them to comms. Then it’s win win for people and the environment.

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

Telecomms do not need subsidies, they need to lower the profit margin at a decent level….like many other business here, including landlords

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Does the report take the Internet speed into consideration?

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Uptime should be monitored also.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Dr Hessa talks about citizens, DN about low income labourers. Two different things. For Qatar making sure all citizens have access at affordable rates is the priority not all residents.

Jason
Jason
6 years ago

This is what happens when you have Monopolies. Most businesses in Qatar are run this way. In the end, its the customers who pay the price.. literally and figuratively.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

“two competing broadband retail providers”. No doubt they’ll have their daily conference call as the hoteliers do.

Expat77
Expat77
6 years ago

In my country I pay 500 qr equivalent for Electricity n water while unlimited Internet is 100 Qr. Here in Qatar I pay 150 -200 qr for water electr. While Internet bill is 400+
The proportions are stark.

Rapha31
Rapha31
6 years ago

Indirect taxation.

Bo
Bo
6 years ago

I’m not sure the companies view it as competition or just someone to share profits with? I wouldn’t call a cartel yet, as that would be colluding to fix prices, but these are oligopolies working inefficiently and lazily, with no incentive to up their game. Greatest competition and innovation comes through open markets and the threat of fresh/new competition/ideas eating into your share of clientele and profits. In business, being an oligopoly is a bliss and idealistic position – but getting their should be through hard work and winning the loyalty and respect of customers. If you have the threat of a better/fresher company replacing you as an oligopoly, you’ll do what all successful oligopolies do and provide an equal or better service and/or product (or buy the smaller company and eradicate the competition while hopefully learning what made them such a threat).

Motiur Rahman Bhuiyan
Motiur Rahman Bhuiyan
6 years ago

As I know so far in KSA internet is a bit cheaper. But rest GCC are charging higher than Qatar. Even the call rate.

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