Little Adventures

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

3G Arrives in Doha

The launch of 3G in Doha was made a few weeks back. Initially, people with 3G phones can avail of video calling only and within Doha only. However, Q-Tel, the sole telecommunications provider in Qatar, assured that as partnerships with other networks worldwide is made, video calling will be available for international calls and more services will be launched before the Asian Games in December. I've tried video calling with some friends who has 3G phones as well. Doha is not such a big place and it's easy to just call someone you haven't seen in a while and arrange for a face to face meeting, in a coffee shop or somwhere. Until I am able to call my parents and friends in the Philippines or my brother in the US, I'll stick to voice calls. The price per minute is not unreasonable though. For just QR 0.10 (US$ 0.03 / PHP 1.40) on top of regular voice call rates, I think video calling among family members, especially video calling your children, would be quite fun. Not long after the launch of video calling, mobile internet was made available even to pre-paid card subscribers. Q-Tel boasted a speed of 8 times faster than GPRS for 3G phone users. That sounded impressive until I realized that's also more expensive. In the press release, they said something like QR 10 (US$ 2.74 / PHP 140.00) per 1 Mbps. I could not actually imagine what that meant until I tried it this morning. I'm a pre-paid card subscriber so I checked first how much I have left in my credit balance and it was QR 30.12 (US$ 8.25 / PHP 421.68). I browsed at my own blog, Little Adventures, for exactly five minutes and quit the browser. That 5 minutes using mobile internet cost me QR 11.68 (US$ 3.20 / PHP 163.52). QR 11.68 for five minutes!!! That is an expensive way to surf the net. I've got ADSL at home and at work that I can use anytime and for as long as I want with a fixed rate to pay. And it's faster than 3G and more comfortable to surf with a mouse and a keyboard. Yes 3G works. Yes, I can do video calls and yes, I got mobile internet. But I can't use either effectively and practically at the moment. It's disappointing to think that I bought a 3G phone because of my excitement with 3G technology. I just didn't expected it would cost that much. I understand, of course, that it costs that much because it is today's cutting edge of technology. But a big part of the reason is Q-Tel's monopoly of the industry. As it becomes mainstream, prices will come down naturally and more people will be able to afford it. I'm just concerned that by the time that happens, a new technology will be introduced and I will have to keep up again. (sigh) Cheers, alexdpx


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