Axiom eyes own operation

The CEO of the region's largest mobile wireless retailer has hinted that an Axiom mobile operation could be established in the coming years.

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By  Alex Ritman Published  January 3, 2006

The CEO of Axiom has revealed that the next step for the Middle East’s largest mobile wireless retailer would be to become an operator itself. According to Faisal Al Bannai, becoming a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) is the next logical move for the company he founded in 1997. “It’s not a question of if, but more of when, either this year, next year or the year after.” He made these claims at the opening of Axiom’s first Wireless Café in Dubai, an establishment that Al Bannai hopes will help create a broader Axiom image and build a closer connection between the company and the public. Al Bannai believes that with areas such as its points of presence, distribution networks and after-sales service already well established, Axiom would not have an over-difficult task on its hands if it wanted to become an operator. But it is unlikely that the UAE, where Axiom was first established, will be the country where the company begins its mobile operations. “I think it is more likely to be outside of the UAE,” say Al Bannai. While MVNOs, where mobile operators piggyback other operator's network infrastructure, have not yet appeared in the Middle East, the liberalisation of telecoms markets across the region makes their emergence all the more likely as newcomers hope to capitalise on existing equipment. Axiom is the largest regional mobile retailer in the Middle East with over 200 outlets and 363 retail points of presence across the region. It has expanded heavily into Saudi Arabia, becoming the largest retailer across the kingdom in under a year. By the end of 2006, Axiom intends to have more than 600 outlets. In December 2005 Tecom, a member of Dubai Holding and the company highly expected to be the UAE’s upcoming second operator, bought a 40% stake in Axiom for an undisclosed sum.

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