Number of Qatari Internet users below 11,000
The number of Internet users in Qatar reportedly does not exceed 11,000, according to unofficial sources. In comparison, neighboring Gulf States claim hundreds of thousands of Internet users, reported Al-Bayan.
Various telecommunication market specialists attribute this low percentage to monopolization practices of the Qatari government, which impede the spread of Internet and communication services throughout the country.
According to the same sources, many private Qatari investors would like to establish local Internet provider services, yet are discouraged as a result of the government’s limiting policies.
The Internet appeared for the first time in Qatar in 1996. The number of the local Internet subscribers subsequently rose from 2,000 to 9,000 by 1999. Since last year this figure has nearly stagnated at 11,000.
The cost of connecting to the net remains relatively high. Despite recently proposed reductions in the cost of local Internet use by the Qatari Telecommunication Company (Q-Tel), the service may cost as high as 4.2 Qatari riyals ($1.15) per hour. This figure, according to many, is unnecessarily high as compared with neighboring countries.
Visitors to local Internet cafes as well as household Internet users complain about slow Internet connections, whereby it may take up to one-half hour to connect to a certain website. Moreover, many sites deemed inappropriate are censored from public use, to the dismay of some. — (Mena Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)