The Qatari subsidiary of the UK’s largest telecoms company will launch a full service after a two-month testing period on the network finishes in May.

Vodafone Qatar will test its network from 1 March with an initial 1,000 customers.

Its entry into the market will break the monopoly of Qtel, the government-owned, mobile and fixed-line operator. At the end of September last year, Qtel had 1.7 million mobile phone customers.

Vodafone Qatar won the country’s second licence with a $2.1bn bid in December 2007.

Vodafone owns 22 per cent of the company. The Qatar Foundation, a state-owned charity and investor owns 23 per cent, and various government organisations hold a further 15 per cent.

The company was due to list the outstanding 40 per cent stake in November, but the authorities delayed the listing because of the global stock market turmoil.