Mobile broadband to rock the Middle East

James Middleton

December 16, 2008

2 Min Read
Mobile broadband to rock the Middle East

The explosive growth that mobile broadband services are enjoying in the west looks set to be replicated in the Middle East and Gulf, with representatives of local carriers expressing enthusiasm for the technology’s potential.

During the GSM>3G Middle East show in Dubai, at Monday’s first roundtable discussion: ‘growing telecoms businesses and extending the reach of broadband in the Middle East and beyond’, Slim Saidi, head of Zain Saudi Arabia, told a packed auditorium there is significant potential for mobile broadband, so it is now just a matter of reaching those subscribers and providing access.

The rallying call was picked up by Farid Lekhal, chief commercial officer for Vodafone partner markets, who said the way forward is to exploit the potential of the latest internet capable devices and champion the accessibility of on portal and third party services.

“We have to use the customer information we have access to, to really get to know the customer. Then we have to integrate this information with mobile services such as LBS (location based services) and social networking applications,” Lekhal said. Of course, Vodafone has had the opportunity to learn from the mistakes made in its partner markets, leading the operator to conclude that third party applications do not cannibalise traffic on the network. “On the contrary they expand it, and there is still room for operators to have portals,” he said.

Tayfun Cataltepe, chief corporate strategy and international expansion officer at Turkcell, which recently won the country’s biggest 3G frequency licence, shared the operators’ enthusiasm for internet mobility, declaring that, “Mobile broadband doesn’t mean you have to be a dumb pipe.

“Mobile broadband is the future of telecoms on the whole, and the term ‘broadband’ will even fall out of usage as all connectivity will become ‘broad’,” he said.

Turkcell revealed that it will launch 3G services in June of 2009, and hinted that it would enable third parties to provided services on the network as a core part of its strategy. “The classical VAS (value added service) model is based on revenue sharing,” said Cataltepe. “Those with the most creative services will make the most money, so operators will need to seek a revenue sharing agreement,” he said.

Zain’s Saidi agrees. “Access is a commodity now, so people are willing to pay for services they use. When the customers demand services it’s up to the operators to deliver,” Saidi said, although the participating operators also posited mobile ads, subscriptions and data traffic revenues, as ways of monetising mobile broadband.

Also on the panel was Fouad Brahim Boumakh, president and CEO of Nano-Techpower, a start up which specialises in using nanotechnology to improve the battery performance of wireless devices, who summed up the sentiment over mobile broadband: “The name of the broadband game is any application, anywhere, on any device.”

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

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