27 May 2010
Mobile operator Vodafone Qatar is planning to sue the country’s telecoms regulator, ictQATAR, as well as larger rival Qatar Telecom (Qtel) and UK group Virgin, in response to what it calls the illegal launch of mobile service brand Virgin Mobile Qatar over Qtel’s network earlier this month. Widely reported in the press to be a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Virgin Mobile Qatar is in fact 100% owned by Qtel, which describes the new youth oriented mobile service as a ‘brand licensing partnership’ and as such not requiring an operating concession, but Vodafone Qatar’s CEO Grahame Maher has stated that he considers the service to be an MVNO and in breach of the terms of his company’s licence, which guaranteed that no new mobile operators would enter the market until a further regulatory review of the sector. Following the Virgin launch, ictQATAR published a statement to clarify that ‘there is no third licensed mobile operator. There is also no licensed mobile virtual network operator.’ Qtel obtained usage of the Virgin name for an undisclosed sum, and the launch of the service included opening Virgin-branded retail stores.