LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MIDDLE EAST: Scott Gegenheimer, CEO of Zain, said the operator group is planning to diversify into the enterprise and M2M markets, as it prepares to make Jordan the fifth market in which it offers LTE.
Gegenheimer (pictured) explained that Zain is looking to move into new vertical markets, such as enterprise and M2M, and is in discussions with ISPs and datacentre providers about this.
“One of the things we don’t want to become is a dumb pipe. Can we be a smart pipe and add services on top of the data services? You’ll see lots of adjacent markets we’ll move into,” he commented.
“We definitely have a growth strategy,” Gegenheimer added, while suggesting that an acquisition in the Middle East and North Africa region is a possibility.
Turning to consolidation (Zain operates in eight markets), Gegenheimer said this could be something that happens in particularly competitive markets, but that Zain is “not looking to actively sell any business”.
Having overseen a 21 per cent increase in mobile data revenue over the past year, Gegenheimer said one of the secrets to the company’s recent success has been its ability to bring new technologies to markets first.
Zain currently offers 4G services in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Lebanon, with Jordan to follow soon, after the company secured spectrum licences in the country.
Gegenheimer noted that different markets require different approaches. While some markets see 30 per cent of revenue generated from data, others see low ARPU with data revenue accounting for less than double digits. Iraq, for example, sees data account for 2-3 per cent of revenue in a market where 2G dominates.
As a result, care needs to be taken with mobile data pricing, particularly where data throughput is increasing at a faster rate than the revenue generated. “We need to make sure we’re growing the data profitably,” Gegenheimer said.