Mobile TV and payments widen Etisalat offerings

Etisalat predicts that by January it will have launched both mobile TV and mobile payment services, adding extra defences in preparation for competition in the UAE

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By  Alex Ritman Published  October 3, 2005

Etisalat is planning to launch a variety of new mobile services in the coming months, building up a considerable arsenal in readiness for the arrival of a new operator next year. By the end of the year, mobile TV services will be launched over the operator’s 3G network. “3G today can meet the requirement for mobile TV,” says Khalifa Hassan Al Forah, Etisalat’s mobile system engineering manager. He confirms that the operator is currently working on agreements with broadcasters and attempting to get a good mix between the older and youth segments. “We’re also initialising the methodology of payments.” Mobile TV is being considered by many operators worldwide as the next “killer application” and a variety of trials are taking place utilising a technology known as DVB-H. Not actually requiring any bandwidth, DVB-H can be used without a 3G network, and commercial tests are currently taking place in Scandinavia and the UK. Al Forah says that while Etisalat is aware of DVB-H and the trials, he doesn’t see it reaching the UAE for a couple of years. But when it does emerge, he thinks it will be used alongside the 3G network. “I see coexistence of DVB-H and 3G, with DVB-H used by the handset to receive the channels, and 3G used to provide extra information, such as player statistics while watching a football match.” Such services will add extra value for the customer, Al Forah claims, while obviously helping Etisalat revenues. In January, Etisalat will also be giving its customers the opportunity to make payments using their mobile phone. “This will enhance the convenience for the customer and will also increase the speed in cycle time for the merchant,” says Amir Rashid, Etisalat’s business development manager for eBusiness. He sees payments being made for taxi rides and cinema tickets, but also for license charges and bills. “It will be an additional channel to sell services.” Through the service, the customer will go onto the payment portal, enter the amount and select the designated recipient, who will be automatically informed. “The menus will be customisable,” says Rashid, adding that the feel of the service has yet to be completely decided.

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