Monday, February 23, 2009

Qtel - smart roaming service

Qtel Group customers to get discounted roaming rates

BARCELONA: In what is said to be a first in the region, Qtel Group customers will soon start benefiting from an international roaming offer, which facilitates ‘discounted rates in preferred partner neworks’

Qtel yesterday announ-ced here that the service named “SmartRoamer” involving its group companies and partners would be launched in phases, with the first service rollout in five Gulf countries (except Bahrain) on March 1.

In the next phase, more operators in the Middle East, Asia and Europe would be brought within the roaming arrangement.

Both post-paid and pre-paid customers in Qatar, Kuwait (Wataniya Telecom) and Oman (Nawras) will benefit from SmartRoamer, said Qtel executive director (international services) Ahmed al-Debesti.
The offer would be extended to Qtel Group customers in phases, al-Debesti said. The first phase will be launched on March 1 covering Qatar, Kuwait and Oman with unified rates.

They will benefit from a single rate whether they call back home or within the Gulf zone (Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE). They can enjoy up to 50% discount when making local calls, up to 70% discount when using wireless data services or more than 25% discount on SMS (text messaging).

In an interview with Gulf Times here al-Debesti said the idea behind SmartRoamer was to make international roaming “more affordable with a transparent pricing mechanism.”

“Currently, the roaming rates are beyond the control of Qtel as they have been dictated by the call/message handling networks. Another disincentive is that different operators in a particular region charge different rates. With a roaming agreement in place, the rates ought to come down significantly and become unified.
“Our customers on international roaming will automatically get switched over to our preferred networks where the discounted rates are available. We expect our customers on roaming to stay with our preferred partner networks for discounted rates. However, customers will have the option of choosing any other available network.
“In all cases, we will let our customers know the applicable roaming charges. This information will land on our customers’ handsets. We are currently working on these applications,” al-Debesti explained.

Asked for the details on the methodology adopted for choosing preferred partner networks, the Qtel executive director said, “We have identified the countries and places where our customers travel to, frequently. That’s how the Gulf region has come top on our priority list.

“This offer will make roaming more affordable, worry-free, simple to understand and reflective of customers’ requirements. It is the result of an extensive market study, which analysed and evaluated customer needs,” he said.
Al-Debesti said the pricing will automatically be available to customers without the need for further registration or calls. The rates for calling and data packages will be announced in due course, he said.

He said SmartRoamer will be enhanced in the next phase covering more preferred partner networks worldwide. Additional roaming features are planned to constantly build and enhance the roaming experience.

Qtel Group CEO Dr Nasser Marafih said, “Our aim is to better understand the changing needs of our consumers, while preserving their home calling habits. Our offers will deliver customers more value for money while travelling overseas.”

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