The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) is providing offers and packages for telecom services to help people of Qatar work remotely from home easily and securely at a time when precautionary measures have been taken to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The CRA has taken the initiative with support from the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC), and in co-operation with local telecom service providers Ooredoo Qatar and Vodafone Qatar, as well as with international partner Microsoft, the authority has said in a statement.
"Priorities were set for the telecom sector in Qatar. The first priority was ensuring telecom networks’ continuity and readiness to handle the additional traffic without affecting the quality of services provided to consumers, and to provide consumers with the best possible quality in terms of service and price," the statement noted.
In addition, it is a priority to ensure that employees working in this sector are following all possible prevention measures to stay healthy, which will secure the resources needed for the business continuity.
These measures will support all telecom services, such as voice calls and the Internet, to facilitate the work done remotely from home during this period, where consumers need faster connectivity services and additional data at affordable prices, according to the CRA.
In this regard, the CRA requested Ooredoo Qatar and Vodafone Qatar for united efforts to meet consumers’ needs by introducing many promotional packages, and setting their duration based on the circumstances.
Both Ooredoo Qatar and Vodafone Qatar have doubled the speed of Internet for existing residential customers and also doubled mobile data for residential and business customers, free of additional charges, the authority said.
In this regard, the CRA said Ooredoo Qatar and Vodafone Qatar have made an effort to connect more customers to Internet services, either waiving the connection fees or introducing new, affordable mobile broadband services; provide residential and business customers - operating either in strategic sectors or in sectors whose revenues are impacted by this emergency - with speed and bandwidth upgrade for free; support units of the government at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 with additional mobile data and/or minutes; and provide unlimited support for the health and education sectors by ensuring to increase the Internet capacity needed to meet their needs.
The full list of packages can be found by visiting the Ooredoo Qatar and Vodafone Qatar websites. Both companies have ensured that they will continue supporting their customers during this difficult period, in co-ordination with the MoTC and CRA.
Additional promotional packages might be introduced in the market in line with the CRA’s Code on Advertising Marketing and Branding, Telecom Consumer Protection Policy and the Retail Tariff Instructions.
The measures also include facilitating the remote operation of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), while following the precautionary measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 by enabling them to access collaboration tools for free through the cloud computing platform of Microsoft.
Microsoft, as one of Qatar’s international partners in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, launched an initiative to provide a number of free services nationwide, such as the customised package of Office 365.
Microsoft provides users with a range of software and tools that significantly facilitate remote operations for businesses, such as voice and video conference calls, along with documents and forms management and storage. The CRA said businesses can access these products for free for a certain period of time by contacting Microsoft’s partners.
The authority has published on its website the Microsoft partners' contact details and related information -https://cra.gov.qa/en/Consumer/Work-from-Home.
The CRA will also launch an outreach campaign, in co-operation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which will target SMEs to inform them about how they can benefit from these free services.
Also, businesses can contact the CRA through the specified contact channels available on its website to inform it about ICT-related challenges that they have faced during the pandemic.
“I would like to sincerely thank the MoTC for its support to these initiatives and also thank Qatar's international partner and local telecom service providers for their efforts and world-class performance. This broad range of partners has enabled the ICT sector to respond quickly to this emergency," said CRA president Mohamed Ali al-Mannai.
“The presence of a highly efficient infrastructure has helped continue providing reliable services that ensures the work continuity of various entities without interruption, and that all citizens and residents of Qatar are able to stay up to date with the latest updates related to Covid-19 and stay in touch with their families and friends,” he added.
Ooredoo Qatar acting CEO Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdullah bin Mohamed al-Thani said, “For the health and safety of our employees and customers in these uncertain times, we were among the first companies in Qatar to have taken extreme preventive measures by asking our employees to work remotely and encouraging our customers to use our available digital platforms for all their transactions.
“More than ever before, we're aware of the importance of reliable telecommunications to our customers, our businesses and our economy. We've seen the demand for connectivity and for fast, reliable Internet rise exponentially as our communities work from home and home-school distance themselves socially and self-isolate. In response, we have significantly boosted network performance and enhanced Internet speeds, including for schools and universities.
“Our #StayHomeWithOoredoo campaign features many facets, including the promotion of our digital channels for customer service, free data and minutes, the addition of educational channels to Ooredoo tv and free transactions for international remittances using Ooredoo's Mobile Money.
“We've also been supporting Qatar’s efforts to manage this unprecedented situation by working with government bodies, including the Ministry of Public Health, to raise awareness of Covid-19 among all sectors of our community via SMS, social media and more, and by using our social media platforms to share messages from the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management.”
Vodafone Qatar CEO Sheikh Hamad bin Abdulla bin Jassim al-Thani said, “The spread of Covid-19 is having a significant impact on our day-to-day lives but we’re in this together. Vodafone Qatar is committed to doing its utmost to support the State of Qatar’s government in combating the spread of this novel virus, and meeting the needs of our customers and wider society during this unprecedented time.
“As a provider of critical connectivity and communications services enabling our digital society, we are acutely aware of the massive responsibility we shoulder, and have been quick to introduce several measures in response to this rapidly evolving situation. This includes adding extra capacity to our fixed, broadband and mobile networks to cope with the increase in demand, increasing customers’ data allowances for free, offering customers door-to-door delivery of all our products and services to customers and disseminating health information to the public via SMS.”