Ooredoo calls for closer deals with OTT players and other rivals

Ooredoo calls for closer deals with OTT players and other rivals

21 OCT 2013

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360-MIDDLE EAST: Close relationships between OTT players, governments and in some instances competing operators will be critical for the future of the mobile industry in the MENA region, which is at a “crossroads” in terms of how it will evolve, Nasser Marafih (pictured), CEO of Ooredoo, said in a keynote presentation this morning.

“Mobile operators today are under severe pressure, we know the industry today is facing challenges. When you look at Europe and other countries, we have seen for the first time that growth has slowed, and some of the operators are having financial problems. We believe that this is going to come to our region, because growth has slowed down in mobile, and there is pressure on pricing, and that is due to the challenge we are facing from OTT players,” he observed.

With regard to the OTT challenge, the executive said: “We believe those are useful services of course, and those are partners we need to work with to share the revenue that comes into the industry, but more importantly to optimise the services we deliver to consumers.”

“We need to work and try to find the model that we can work with for OTT players. Because we should not look at those only as competitors, but also complementors for our services, and we have started doing that through collaborations now,” he continued.

With regards to relationships with governments, Marafih highlighted the need for “stable and transparent” policy frameworks, to enable operators to plan and manage their businesses effectively. “We have been surprised in some countries that taxes have been imposed on operators without any notice, and that has created some difficulties,” he said.

The cost of spectrum is also an important consideration for governments, due to the impact this can have on the affordability of services to consumers for whom cost is a significant barrier to adoption, particularly as LTE comes to the region. “We cannot afford to pay high fees, because this will be transferred to the consumers in the end,” he continued.

“The reason why the rest of the region is not connected is affordability,” Marafih said.

And the executive also talked of the importance of partnerships between competing operators, to “collaborate on the things that make sense”. He noted that while sharing infrastructure deployments will be a sensible way for operators to control their costs, it is important to preserve competition on a pricing and services level.

“We need to optimise our costs, and as operators we need to collaborate more…that doesn’t mean of course that we need to collaborate on pricing and services,” he said.

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Steve Costello

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