Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GSM 3G Middle East : Mobile broadband to rock the Middle East

GSM 3G Middle East 15th-16th December, Dubai
What was evident from the first day’s discussion is that mobile broadband is heralded to benefit from the same explosive growth that is being enjoyed in the west.  Slim Saidi of Zain Saudi Arabia indicated that there is significant potential for mobile broadband and that 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.
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 Officer at Turkcell, which recently won Turkey’s 3G frequency licence, shared the other 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,” he 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.”



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