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1. Why was ictQATAR established?
Qatar's leadership recognized that information and communication technology is integral to realizing a prosperous future for its citizens. In 2004, an Emiri decree established the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, the government body responsible for setting ICT policy and regulation. A year later, ictQATAR began its work.
The Emir invested the Council with two authorities:
- As the country's independent and fair regulator, to protect consumers and businesses as Qatar transitions to a competitive telecoms market.
- As the government body responsible for nurturing innovative technologies, to connect citizens to government and help people of all ages and income levels become comfortable with technology so they can achieve personal and professional goals.
Six years later ictQATAR continues to champion efforts to accelerate ICT adoption across all sectors and build a vibrant and diversified economy to benefit all.
2. As the nation's regulatory authority, what is ictQATAR's role in liberalizing the telecommunications market?
ictQATAR has led an open and public telecoms liberalization effort, a process that attracted interest from the world's most important telecommunications providers. The experience of countries throughout the world has proven that when providers compete with one another, consumers win. After a vigorous, competitive process, Vodafone was selected as the second mobile and fixed line operator. Qtel is the incumbent provider.
Competition is thriving in Qatar to the benefit of consumers and business in terms of better service, better value, and more innovation in products and services. Competition in the sector will continue to make Qatar an even better place for businesses of all sizes to serve their customers and clients.
Now that the market has been open to competition, we are conducting a strategic review of the sector to analyze the state of competition and determine if additional operators or further regulatory measures would enhance competition in Qatar.
3. With an open market, how is ictQATAR protecting consumers?
ictQATAR's role is one of independent regulator and consumer advocate. In this new environment, businesses and individual consumers come first. To ensure everyone is treated fairly, ictQATAR will guard against unfair business practices, working quickly to resolve disputes and complaints. ictQATAR is also ensuring that consumers understand their rights and responsibilities.
ictQATAR is also consulting with the public and stakeholders to integrate their views into the setting of regulations and policy. Consumers can call the hotline phone number +974 4499 5353, for help with complaints, disputes and new billing guidelines. For more information, go to Regulatory Authority part of the website.
4. What is ictQATAR doing to keep children safe on the internet and protect online transactions?
An absolute priority of ictQATAR is the protection of our children online. Children must be able to chat online or research a school project without predators or marketers accessing their private information.
This unwavering dedication to the safety of children - and the security of commercial transactions and protection of government and business information and systems - is why ictQATAR partnered in 2005 with Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute to establish the Qatar Computer-Emergency Response Team (Q-CERT). Q-CERT's team of more than 30 professionals cooperate with government agencies, schools, organizations, and businesses of all sizes to manage cyber risks and protect users. Q-CERT has developed a national cyberspace security response team.
With the recent launch of “Safe Space,” a website for teachers, parents and families, ictQATAR has created a vital information resource dedicated to protecting youth from online risks, including cyber-bullying, inappropriate content, and solicitations.
5. How is ictQATAR developing and diversifying the market?
Qatar is growing its ICT sector as well as accelerating the competitiveness of business through adoption of ICT. We are working to foster a technology-friendly environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In today's global economy, the ability of SMEs to leverage technology is crucial, but we have found that many business leaders are unaware of ICT's extraordinary potential to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and build a customer base. ictQATAR is sponsoring Business Connect, a series of seminars bringing businesses and ICT development together. Business Connect seminars highlight relevant ICT information and provide a forum to share success stories.
Qatar’s first comprehensive e-commerce law was enacted and is an important step forward in fostering business usage of e-commerce and transactions. The law includes provisions on areas such as e-signatures, e-documents and authentication. It also includes e-government services. In another related development, ictQATAR has rolled out a new domain naming system in Arabic. This will extend the reach of ICT in Qatar to non-English speakers, greatly enhancing the ability of SMEs in Qatar to improve and market their businesses.
ictQATAR is fostering an entrepreneurial environment through its incubation center. In 2010, Fahras Qatar, an online business directory, became the first spin-off company for ictQATAR’s Digital Content Incubation Center.
In addition, ictQATAR is developing an international campaign to attract foreign direct investments in strategic sectors within the ICT industry.
6. How is ictQATAR championing an information-based society ?
The National Vision is an ambitious roadmap to a prosperous future where citizens will enjoy unlimited social, economic, and political opportunities. ictQATAR is part of helping the country attain these aspirations. In education, our programs help open students' eyes to a world of ideas and concepts. Technology allows adult learners to keep growing intellectually and professionally so their careers advance. And technology is connecting parents, students, and teachers through a unique three-way portal. In the healthcare sector, where Qatar's leaders are committed to providing world-class care to the entire population, information technology will service as the cornerstone of an effective and responsive healthcare delivery system.
Economically, we are helping businesses of all sizes to discover new efficiencies and new markets. Every day, ICT supports the economy as it expands, deepens, and diversifies. And because of technology, people with a dream and a good idea can start or expand their small business. ictQATAR has worked with other councils, ministries and government agencies to create Hukoomi, Qatar's e-government portal. Hukoomi helps connect people to the government that serves them. Now people of all ages and income levels can access the same services and information about government policy any time day or night. And Hukoomi has been updated to include more up to date information and new transaction capabilities.
7. What is ictQATAR doing to benefit people living with disabilities?
ictQATAR is implementing programs and policies to ensure the promise of technology is for everyone. In 2008, www.ictQATAR.qa was enhanced to fully comply with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Level AA accessibility standards.
To raise awareness of this issue in government and private industry, ictQATAR hosted a forum on Assistive Technologies for the Visually Impaired, the first in a series of events focusing on how ICT can be integrated into the lives of the disabled. Moreover, ictQATAR has established a Working Group of local experts to determine specifically how ICT can best play a role in improving life for Qatar's disabled.
In 2010, ictQATAR opened Mada, the Center for Assistive Technology, in the ictQATAR building. Mada offers services and guidance to people with both physical and learning disabilities giving them increased access to technology. Already Mada has served hundreds of people.
8. How is Qatar proceeding with a national broadband network?
ictQATAR is developing a world-class, high speed ICT infrastructure that is affordable and accessible from everywhere in Qatar, providing secure and reliable national and international connectivity. Currently, Qatar has 100% broadband coverage but is currently investing heavily in implementing a next generation national broadband network that will entail the installation of a Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network which will provide fibre connections to households and businesses. ictQATAR will ensure that fast broadband coverage is universal, ubiquitous, and not overpriced.
9. What are ictQATAR’s future plans to create a knowledge economy?
In 2010, ictQATAR adopted an aggressive five year strategic plan – a blueprint that will ensure momentum and progress in building a world-class ICT market and society.
The national plan includes four main spheres of action:
- Public Service Delivery – Improve access and increase effectiveness of public services. Create societal benefits from increasing volumes of digital information.
- Infrastructure and Environment – Guarantee the roll out and installation of a national, affordable high-speed broadband network with public and private investment.
- Industry Development – Develop an innovative and entrepreneurial ICT market, improve the ICT skills and capabilities of the workforce, create economic benefits by increasing the quantity of digital and Arabic content on the Internet.
- Literacy, Skills, and Inclusion – Enhance digital literacy and skills, and improve access and usage across all sectors of society.