Operators advised to choose battles in search for new revenue

Operators advised to choose battles in search for new revenue

14 OCT 2014

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MIDDLE EAST: Mobile operators should think carefully about new business areas they move into if they are to generate additional revenue streams. That was the underlying theme from a keynote panel comprising C-level executives from Etisalat, Ooredoo and STC.

“Not everything will work everywhere for every segment,” Khalifa Al Shamsi, chief digital services officer for Etisalat Group, warned. “Focus is the main thing in the industry at the moment. We are spreading out our troops over so many verticals,” he said, noting the importance of relevance of services to individual markets.

Al Shamsi advised operators not to chase revenue in areas where consumers have flocked to OTT players. With music streaming for example, implementing operator billing for these services is more likely to generate income than developing a competing service, he argued.

“You have to differentiate the reason why things are happening and why it’s relevant in your market. You have to look at the complete value chain,” he commented.

Cenk Serdar, chief consumer officer of STC, agreed that different markets need different approaches: “How many of the models are applicable across the globe? Because there are certain circumstances that make them successful in one market and not another,” he explained.

Citing the mPesa mobile money service in Kenya, Serdar suggested the service may have been less of a success if the operator that rolled it out, Safaricom, hadn’t been so dominant.

Cynthia Gordon, chief commercial officer for Ooredoo, also highlighted the importance of understanding the difference between markets. “Most of our customers will access content on a 2G network on a basic feature phone. We see significant growth in that opportunity. But we need to be realistic – not everyone has an iPhone,” she noted.

Turning to the topic of smart cities, Gordon said that while the concept is being pioneered in well-organised cities — such as in the UAE — implementation of the ideas in cities with less developed infrastructure, such as Jakarta in Indonesia, will be more of a challenge.


Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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