Determined Defence

Jordan Telecom has become the first incumbent operator in the region to commercially launch its own end-to-end voice-over-internet product, Livebox, which it estimates could save ADSL subscribers up to 20% on traditional voice calls.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  September 22, 2005

|~|Livebox-house.jpg|~|The Livebox is the first step towards enabling triple-play offerings in residences. |~|CommsMEA: Why did Jordan Telecom decide to introduce this technology?
Luc Savage: First of all it is a matter of the availability of technology. In terms of technology, we can say that the technology is mature now.
In France the product launched in July 2004, so we are launching just one year later, though we were eager to launch it earlier this year. One of the things that made us postpone the launch was the changes to the regulatory environment. There are now individual licences and class licences and an individual licensee can do exactly the same that we have done.

Technology-wise, in terms of marketing, in terms of mastering the technology, we think that we are ahead of them but in terms of the regulatory environment, they can do the same. So it is the right timing in terms of regulation, definitely we believe, it is the right time in terms of the maturity of the technology and regarding the market’s needs, I do not think it would make sense to add advanced services to the ADSL market before the market has the chance to increase and accept the evolution of the product.
So we are now reaching more than 16,000 ADSL lines in Jordan and having done so, it is time to differentiate.

CMEA: Do you envision complete substitution of traditional fixed lines in favour of IP phones?
LS: Definitely not in the coming months, not in the coming year. I can still see bicycles although a car is much faster to go from point A to point B. So I think there will be a market for each different service. We know that some people here in Jordan, some cannot afford maybe a mobile subscription, nor a fixed line and for sure we are not targeting this market. Though we are not targeting this market, but we are willing to offer other services that are suitable for people that have lower income. So with respect to the ADSL services, it is a premium service for people who are looking for quality, innovation and good value for money as a whole package.

I do not think it will completely replace PSTN, I think it will set the standard for a new fixed operator coming to Jordan in terms of the quality of voice-over-IP, quality of customer care, and in terms of quality of innovation that is required by the market.

CMEA: So is the Livebox a niche product?
LS: I do not think that ADSL is a niche product and I think that every ADSL subscriber will be interested, at some stage, in this product. It is just to say that at this point we see VoIP as being an aggregation of the internet and any other application, which can be sound, music, data, or video. Voice is simply another application of the internet. We bring this to the market in Jordan, but it has been available all over the world previously. We have just brought the innovation here. We know about Skype, we know this type of service provider is offering services on a global scale, and we are saying that we can bring something to the market that uses the benefits of VoIP, so we are bringing to local markets services that have been provided by companies like Skype globally.

We are local in Jordan and in the region and we believe that with any of these other VoIP providers, you will not find their services localised for the Jordanian market, you cannot buy it from local shops, and you cannot pay for it with your electron card, which is the most popular credit payment card in Jordan. So all services have been customised to suit the Jordanian market. I do not mean there will not be other operators coming to the market with this type offer, they had just better attach it to the Jordanian market.
||**|||~|Savage200.1.jpg|~|Luc Savage says Jordan Telecom shares a common vision with France Telecom. |~|CMEA: There are QoS issues regarding VoIP. What has JT done to address these?
LS: It is very important to have the experience of our strategic partner France Telecom, which launched it one-year before we did, in order to benefit from of all the technical issues that occurred during the launch of the product in France. So we could leverage significantly on France Telecom’s experience.

Basically the first issue with the development of voice-over-internet is the management of the quality of the voice and the time lag between when you send a packet and when it reaches the recipient. On our network we can monitor this and the quality of service cannot be compared with the quality of service over the web. It is IP technology, but on an IP network, managed by Jordan Telecom. So the quality of service is managed. When you go international, we use our international circuits and the quality of service is controlled and managed. So you cannot compare the quality of the voice with Skype or the other web voice providers, which have invented a lot of things but have not invested in the network, in the long-distance network as well as in the local network.

We have invested in the network to monitor the quality of service, so it is a different approach. On the web interface we can compare our service very much with other VoIP providers because we try to make it as intuitive as possible, so it is very much comparable. On the quality of service, we rely on our own network, on our own infrastructure, we control it from A to B, and so it enables us to deliver a better quality of service.

The difference then, depends on the softswitch itself, which is the technology used to interconnect IP data for VoIP. We rely on our partnership with France Telecom, our strategic partner, to provide us with the best suitable and proven technology and we have launched the Livebox with the same solution that was implemented by France Telecom.

I am trying to summarise that the relationship we have (with France Telecom) is that we have been taking a lot of technology in the past from France and Europe where our strategic partner is active, and we just bring the best and most reliable technology in, operate, and adapt it to the local market. But we have not had to go through the whole process of R&D, we are not doing VoIP R&D, we are taking the technology that is already proven by our strategic partner.
||**|||~|Savage200.jpg|~|The move to offer voice over IP is one that Jordan Telecom expects to be replicated in the market.|~|CMEA: Is it difficult to identify technologies that have worked elsewhere for introduction into Jordan?
LS: I think it is quite easy because there is shared vision between France Telecom and Jordan Telecom. So they understand very well what we are looking for and we have a special interface between them and us, we share resources that are dedicated to serve Jordan, and in this way we are able to bring the best solutions that are suitable for Jordan. France Telecom also experienced the process of the opening up of the market that we are going through. We have a direct interface dedicated (to us) inside France Telecom R&D and we have a direct interface inside of marketing, in communications, and in different things.

CMEA: What is your vision for Jordan Telecom regarding the move towards fixed-mobile convergence?
LS: Our position is that today convergence technology does exist and there is the technology available for convergence. Whether you like it or not, you can have VoIP, you can have mobiles connected to the fixed line, and you can access internet through your mobile device.
So mobile is becoming internet, fixed is becoming mobile and internet becomes voice. So convergent technologies are here and it is a fact that they are available. Our vision at Jordan Telecom is very much in line with the vision of the France Telecom Group that this technology makes sense only if it delivers additional benefits to the lives of the customer.
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