In 2006 a law was put in place restructuring the telecommunications industry in Qatar, meaning that Qtel, still the largest provider in the country, could no longer hold a monopoly over the market. Vodafone have now entered the market and this has completely shaken up the structure, leading to more competitive prices and a wider option of services available.
Generally, local calls are free while international calls are cheaper in the evening. You must must be over 18, have either an ID or passport and your residency permit in order to be eligible to apply for a landline. A standard landline fee will revolve around a one off payment in the region of QR200 (US $55) and further monthly payments of roughly QR33 (US $9).
To apply for a mobile phone contract, the stipulations are similar to that of applying for a landline. However, to obtain a mobile contract you will need to provide a letter from your sponsor (the person you used for your residency visa) and you are also required to leave a deposit of roughly QR1000 (US $275). The connection fee is normally around QR250 (US $69) for both Vodafone and Qtel. There are also various monthly tariffs available depending on what you are looking for in terms of minute, Internet and SMS allowance.
Top-up or pay-as-you-go sim cards (Hala cards) can be obtained from authorised dealers in denominations of QR30, 50, 100 (US $8, $14 and $27.50). Once again you must be over 18 and have a passport and ID with you. Recharging or topping up your sim card is done through buying a scratch card. These can be purchased in Qtel self-service machines usually in popular shopping districts or malls, or in Qtel authorised dealers. Simply scratch the card, enter the number “127” followed by the number on your card to top-up your phone.
With Vodafone ‘Red’ cards, you can top up any amount between QR35 and QR550 (US $10 - $150). Currently you can also receive bonus minutes depending on how much you top-up however these minutes can only be used with other Vodafone users. The system is similar to that of the Hala cards, simply obtain the number from the card or receipt and enter it into your phone. You can also top-up at any Vodafone store.
Note: Calls between Vodafone users are free, as are all calls between landlines. Other calls for Vodafone users cost 50 dirhams (US $0.14) per minute. With Qtel, calls cost 55 dirhams (US $0.15), video calls 65 dirhams ($0.18), texts costs 40 dirhams ($0.11).
Q-cards can also be purchased at different rates and are usually used for international calls. These cards can be used in telephone booths, landlines or mobile telephones. Dawli international cards are widely considered to be the cheapest option available.