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Liberalised telecoms markets represent an opportunity for new market entrants to offer fresh services.

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By  Adrian Bridgwater Published  May 24, 2008

Liberalised telecoms markets represent an opportunity for new market entrants to offer fresh tariffs packaged with accompanying mobile and internet access deals.

Windows looks at the mechanics of a free telecoms environment and discovers that these open markets also offer the opportunity for a new breed of value-added services to be offered.

While our Western counterparts might view a liberalised telecoms market as the norm, several territories across the Middle East are yet to open up their doors to competition in their communications sectors.

I think a major factor to consider in deregulating the regional telcoms market is the importance of brands.

This may be due to the economic policies of the particular governments or simply down to the fact that many of these countries, particularly those in the Gulf, have been experiencing such rapid growth over the last couple of decades, that retaining a little extra control over central 'utilities' has been regarded as prudent.

Whatever the reasons for a lack of liberalisation in some areas, if we look to the West - and indeed to the developed economies of the Far East - we can see that where deregulation has occurred, new telecoms firms have sprung up and pricing has naturally become more competitive.

At the same time, their profits have often gone up as a new breed of services has come in and their average revenue per user has in some cases increased.

In liberalised telecoms markets, not only do us end users get more choice for their home and business accounts, but packaged deals typically mean that internet access, subscription for digital television and related services for mobile are also bundled into the bargain.

What then develops is the potential for additional value-added services to be rolled out.

Creativity flourishes and is only limited to the scope of the new concepts that the software engineers behind these new ideas can produce.

Techie recognition

The plight of the programmers faced with creating new services in recently liberalised Middle Eastern telecoms markets is widely recognised, with many vendors strongly focused on helping this area.

"The issue of choice is important to customers, so in addition to providing a portfolio of smartphones with different features (like GPS, Wi-Fi etc), we also support a thriving programme of third-party companies and developers (there are more than 725 at the moment) who create bespoke and off-the-shelf applications. These applications are proving very popular with people who want to access information and connect with people wherever they are - whether it is work related or personal," said Khaled Kefel, Middle East director for Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry.

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