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Jordan 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

Hugely ambitious, Umniah is fighting to bring ultra-high-speed broadband to 70% of households in Jordan within the next three years.

Ziad Shatara
BIOGRAPHY
Ziad Shatara joined Umniah as CEO in 2015 after a remarkable professional track record and extensive international experience of more than 20 years in the telecommunications field. Prior to this, he was CEO and an active member of the board of directors at Banglalink. With a bachelor’s and master’s in electrical and computer engineering from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, he has held key management positions in different technology streams, including Chief Technology Officer at Wind Telecommunications in Italy. He has additional professional expertise in the fields of IT, customer service, and retail operations and a solid proficiency in building, running, and expanding operations.

Since launching in 2005, Umniah has stood out as the fastest-growing communications services provider. What have been some main recent achievements?

Our most important achievement for 2018 was our deal with Jordan Electric Power Company (JEPCO) for a fiber-optic network. This is the most innovative deal in terms of how it services consumers, the business community, and the overall country. It is a significant infrastructure investment to form a joint venture company; we will build the infrastructure to reach 1.4 million households in Amman and the surrounding big cities of Zarqa, Madaba, and Salt. Within three years, we can offer ultra-high-speed broadband to 70% of households in Jordan with this infrastructure company. In comparison to many European countries, we will be ahead in terms of infrastructure availability for households. The company will utilize existing assets to serve the overall economic development of the country. Another important element of this project is that it is a wholesale company, serving all operators and new start-ups on an equal basis. This opens business opportunities to existing companies so there is no double investment, as there is a common platform open for everyone to use, not to mention it will also provide employment opportunities. There is no competitive edge in this sense for any one company. Third, this addresses a need for the internet required by most Jordanian households. We are now the third utility provider, in addition to water and electricity, enabling an infrastructure that allows every household internet access. This will be one of the most important utility services in the coming years. We are changing the shape of the country with this investment, pushing the economy, and creating more opportunities for more companies to work with. It will begin to materialize in 2019, and we have a three-year deadline to complete the project. At this point, the agreement is with Jordan Electricity Distribution Company, with services and assets serving the aforementioned 1.4 million households. There are two other companies serving the north and another serving the south. This initiative could, therefore, be the step for Umniah to make partnerships with other electricity distribution companies in different parts of Jordan.

What is the company's marketing position, and what steps is it taking to enhance this position?

Our strategy is always centered on what the consumer needs and how to make that happen in the best way. We try to anticipate customer trends and reach them in the most economic ways. We are an efficient machine geared toward efficient production of value and services. These are typically the best service with high speeds, high volumes, and transparency, using innovation to produce this for our consumers. In addition to fiber optics, we have all the standard products and services—broadband and wireless, mobile 4G services, and every standard telecom service. However, it is all about how those are packaged and produced at an affordable price for the consumer. We are achieving this by transforming ourselves from a traditional telecom provider into a digital services provider. The telecom industry is one of the laziest industries in terms of digital transformation because it is used to being cash-rich. We embarked on a transformation three years ago, and in 2019 we find ourselves at the forefront of companies offering such services in the region, not only in Jordan. Ours was awarded the best mobile application of mobile operators after Virgin, which has a digital business model. We see ourselves accelerating in that direction. Product availability and tailoring are the things we can offer customers, which is how we differentiate ourselves.