Qatar Internet Options
How to Get on the Web in Qatar
Currently Qtel is the only operator. This should change with the arrival of Vodafone, which has won both the mobile and fixed line licenses for the country.
Things seem to have been delayed in the meantime: with market conditions not exactly great an IPO has already been put back several times, and there are rumours that they have had to start setting up the network again after an initial sub-contractor got itself in a mess.
The looming competition does seem to have galvanised Qtel to an extent, and it has been introducing new services and packages for internet users. Internet users in Qatar can now access the internet without a land line via mobile broadband, through use of a card or by utilising one of the internet cafes or hot spots around the city. (See our list of Doha Internet Cafes and Hotspots.)
Note that internet speeds in Qatar are still well below that of much of the rest of the rest of the developed world. Standard ADSL internet speed comes in at 512 kbps, while the maximum internet speed available to non-commercial cons ers is 2 mbps.
When we tested the speed of the internet on a Mozaic TV+ connection connection we got an average download speed of 289 kbps and an average upload speed of 172 kbps. While this might be slow, it is substantially faster than the speeds we used to get in the past when we were using an ADSL connection - I once clocked it at 40 kbps, although service has improved since.
Note that much of Qtel's internet is routed via ocean cables, which are vulnerable to cuts - as happened in February 2008. (See Another Internet Cable Goes.)
Despite this slowness of speed, prices are high compared with many other countries. This is to be expected with a monopoly - it will be interesting to see how things develop with the arrival of a competitor.
To contact Qtel regarding any of the options we have outlined below ring 111 (expect a bit of a wait) or visit one of their customer centers - we generally recommend the one in Hyatt Plaza as it can be quiet if you catch it at the right time of day.
Requires a computer, modem and telephone line. Dial 161 and access the internet without a password or user name. An hourly charge will be made to the telephone bill.
Qtel now offers a mobile broadband service, with internet access. Despite a cap on the amount of usage offered (between one and five gigabytes per month, depending on the plan selected), as with similar services abroad, this has proved to be a popular option with many residents who then choose not to get a regular land line. Coverage out of the more densely populated east coast is virtually non-existent, coverage within Doha at least is good.
Customers can choose to either use Qtel's own dongle or to use their own, provided it is compliant with Qtel's networks. We don't like to give details of prices as they can change faster than we can update the website, but at the time of writing prices and usage limits are substantially above that of the UK.
These pre-paid internet cards can be used to access dial up internet from any phone line without a pre-existing contract. Similar to Hala cards, they have a secret number accessed by scratching off the foil on the reverse side of the card. People who have used them have reported that they worked well and provided good speeds for dial up internet.
Qtel will supply you with and install an ADSL modem, but you will then be able to use the telephone line interrupted and surf at speeds of between 500kbps and 2mb. At the time of writing it is generally cheaper to buy a bundled package. We have heard that the modems are not brilliant and are prone to breaking - it worked okay for us, though, until we switched to Mozaic. Friends who are using the service report improved speeds in the last four months.
A bundled package of a land line, ADSL and GSM postpaid. The package comes in three different prices depending on the speed of the ADSL internet connection (512kb, 1mb & 2mb).
Mozaic TV +
Package of cable television, telephone and a wireless internet connection. At the time of writing this is one of the better value options available. Note that while the internet connection is wireless, the Mozaic TV is connected by cable to a device called a Tilgin. The Qtel installers do not always make the connection secure, but password protection can be added over the phone. For more information see our review of Mozaic TV+ .
Refers to the internet services provided by Qtel for mobile phones, a mixture of free content and paid content, which includes a large number of Arabic music videos but a much smaller number of English music videos, suggesting that the target audience are Arabs rather than English speaking expatriates.
We have heard the service criticised by no less than a Qtel employee (off the record, of course), but there does seem to be a lot more available on the site than a few months ago, including a section on "brain and puzzles." Visit Mozaic Mob to make your own mind up!
Qtel has an internet service which allows to connect from your mobile phone (or other devices) at dial up speeds. With this service you are only charged for sending or receiving data, not for time spent on the internet. To use the service customers must have a GPRS enabled device. Customers can configure handsets by visiting MyWds.com, and entering their number, or by calling 111.
Comes with access of up to 10 email accounts. Customers will face a surcharge after breaching 10mb usage a month. Blackberries can be purchased from Qtel. We would appreciate any feedback on the effectiveness of Blackberries in Qatar.
Qatar Internet Extension
The country level extenstion for Qatar domains is QA. See Qatar QA for details.
Also see Qtel, Qatar and Telephones.Spider's web image by Klipangtorok