Info2cell builds infrastructure for wireless hosting

Info2cell has opened a $2.5 million hosting facility in Dubai Internet City that will offer content delivery services to GSM operators around the region.

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By  Rob Corder Published  May 21, 2001

Visitors to Info2cell.com today will be surprised to find that the portal Web site has been replaced with a corporate site promoting the company’s mobile information services.

The Info2cell.com portal, according to CEO Bashar Dahabra, was designed to demonstrate the depth and quality of content the company was capable of delivering. “It was never the prime business driver for the operation,” he added.

That content will now be delivered via multiple channels using back-end technology that was originally developed in-house by Info2cell, and more recently improved using systems from Acotel; a European wireless portal leader that acquired one-third of Info2cell late last year.

Info2cell’s content, which is created in partnership with a number of newswires and Middle East publishers like ITP.net and BBCArabic.com, will now be accessible simultaneously via four channels: Web, WAP, SMS and voice. Subscribers to Info2cell services can select the type of content they want to receive online at www.myinfo2cell.com;. Here they can choose from subjects like news, IT news, stock quotes, sports results, etc. They can also set parameters like the number of times per day they want to receive bulletins or alerts. They can also choose to only receive messages that contain up to three user-defined keywords within a news item (e.g. computer; Saudi Arabia; government).

Info2cell’s primary route to market will be via partnership agreements with a network of GSM operators in the Middle East. Two deals are already signed, according to Dahabra, with another three expected to be closed in the very near future. The names of the GSM operators have not yet been released but sources close to the negotiations say MobiNil in Egypt and Fastlink in Jordan will be among the first deals announced.

The GSM partnership deals are expected to give Info2cell multiple sources of income. Revenue sharing deals are being hammered-out with the operators so that Info2cell receives a percentage of the airtime charges associated with voice calls and WAP connections. The company will also get a percentage of charges for SMS transmissions.

The Web will remain a potential revenue generator from online advertising, although Dahabra admits that the Middle East has not yet ramped-up advertising spending online.

Supporting the multiple delivery channels for Info2cell’s content is a $2.5 million hosting facility located in Dubai Internet City. The service center hosts the back-end database of content, which feeds the same news and information through to voice, WAP, SMS and Web front ends in the different formats required for each platform.

Info2cell’s UAE team of editors have also recently relocated to DIC, and they will continue to be supported by an additional editors based in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Palestine.

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