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The impressive ranking Qatar recently earned in “network readiness” speaks volumes about the state’s National ICT Plan, which aims to improve the ICT sector’s contribution to GDP over the next few years.

Qatar is ranked 23rd globally in “network readiness” while leading the entire Arab world, according to the 12th annual Global Information Technology Report (GITR) report.

The report - prepared by international business school, INSEAD, and the World Economic Forum with the help of Booz and Company and CISCO - notes that Qatar has climbed five places up in the global rankings, which reflects the government’s efforts at enhancing online services in the country.

By ranking each nation using the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), the study examines how these markets leverage advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) to drive economic productivity and social development.

Qatar has plans to spend more than QR6.2bn to advance the digital agenda of the country by 2015.

Besides enabling people to access modern communication, the investment on Qatar’s ICT sector will create numerous jobs for our professionals and strengthen national economy. Leading the Arab world, Qatar (23rd) rises five places in the rankings which is due to the government’s sharp effort to expand its offerings of online services (27th) and increase the online participation of citizens (22nd).

Qatar ranks in the top five on two pillars relating to government ICT usage and overall ICT skills. Qatar has achieved improved footing in seven of the 10 sub-indices, contributing to the overall network readiness and usage, the report says.

In Qatar, mobile broadband subscriptions have exploded, leaping from 9.6% last year (43rd) to 70.3% this year (11th).

However, the report says fixed broadband affordability represents Qatar’s “most significant weakness” (103rd), which is a by-product of “high fixed broadband Internet tariffs and relatively low competition”.

The report emphasises on the fact that this weakness can only be met by improving competition in the fixed broadband segment, which is now dominated by Qatar’s first telecommunications operator - Ooredoo.

Vodafone, which is advancing its position in the country’s mobile segment, must consider allotting more resources to the fixed broadband segment so that customers in the country will further benefit from communication technology. The service provider should also consider taking its fixed broadband plans to every corner of this country.

As people in Qatar have already seen, strong competition will improve efficiency, customer service and help reduce tariff. While overall penetration in the country’s mobile segment in high, still more needs to be achieved in the fixed broadband segment.

It is hoped that both Ooredoo and Vodafone will continue to support the government’s strong vision and commitment to rapidly develop ICT as a means to diversify the national economy.

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Quelle/Source: Gulf Times, 27.04.2013

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