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Qatar 2015 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, CEO of Ooredoo Qatar, on the role of the company, demand for 4G, and how to improve services.

Being the flagship branch, what is the role of Ooredoo Qatar within the larger group structure of the company?

In Qatar, our market awareness is at 100%, and brand equity has steadily improved as we have demonstrated to our customers that we promote growth. By having such a strong band presence, we have been able to launch life-enhancing products such as 4G Mobile Broadband, Ooredoo Fibre, Business Fibre, and the Ooredoo App. We have also been able to provide next generation entertainment services like our Mozaic GO App and state-of-the-art business services such as the data center with a safety net. By using our communities and Qatar's bustling industry needs as a launch pad for these services, we can perfect the products to make a truly global portfolio. At the beginning of 2014, we reached the milestone of 3 million customers in Qatar.

How have your customers received the fiber and 4G services, and how do you expect demand to develop over the next year?

Data access is now the single largest contributor to revenue growth, with 28% YoY revenue growth across the group. In Qatar, Ooredoo is the data market leader, with 26% YoY data revenue growth and 80% mobile broadband penetration in 2013. We still see a significant potential for growth in these figures, and intend to drive data market expansion. Over 175,000 customers have also been connected to Ooredoo Fibre, offering the fastest internet speeds available, access to our entertainment service Mozaic TV, and offering businesses a next-generation service. In order to encourage more customers to switch to Ooredoo and remain with us; however, we need to deliver the latest life-enhancing technology combined with great value promotions and reliable network signals. To deliver this we are expanding our 4G network and connecting more homes to fiber every day to keep up with the growing demand for fast internet and creating a high-tech networking infrastructure throughout the country that can cope with the growing population of Qatar.

“Data access is now the single largest contributor to revenue growth."

What is your strategy with regard to Ooredoo's ambition to improve the services in mobile money transfers?

As Qatar's economy continues to grow, the country has seen an influx of international workers contributing to key projects. These workers need to send money to friends and family in their home country. Many do not have bank accounts or easy access to financial services, but virtually all of them have mobile phones. Seizing an opportunity to enhance the lives of underserved communities in Qatar, Ooredoo launched the mobile banking service Ooredoo Mobile Money in 2011. Using any model of mobile phone, customers can send money securely, conveniently, and reliably, 24 hours a day, with money available for collection in just 10 minutes. Initially, Ooredoo customers could send money only to Pakistan and the Philippines, but in order to serve Qatar's diverse expatriate population, Ooredoo has partnered with leading global payment services company MoneyGram to enable customers to send money for collection at over 321,000 MoneyGram agents in 200 countries around the world. The partnership with MoneyGram was a global first, and matches the needs of expatriate workers perfectly.

How will the global unification of the Ooredoo Group impact the capabilities of the company to improve its services?

The purpose of transforming into Ooredoo was about much more than just changing our name; it was about taking our business to the next level and creating a new identity. A major part of that was looking to differentiate based on the customer experience. We wanted to improve networks, offer new services and deliver on our promise to stimulate human growth. In some markets, in parallel with the launch of the Ooredoo brand, this involved the launch of 4G and 3G services. Over the past year, every Ooredoo operation has carried out research to understand what customers are looking for and what their expectations of Ooredoo services are. Each operation has carried out a series of focus groups and customer surveys to help shape their respective “customer promise"—the commitments that customers can expect from Ooredoo.

© The Business Year - April 2015