Freedom call

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

  • E-Mail
By  Adrian Bridgwater Published  May 24, 2008

To a degree, the Middle East's non-liberalised telecoms markets are in a special position where they can view what has and hasn't worked elsewhere, should they decide to open up.

Some industry analysts believe that, if they were rolled out in countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, technologies such as television services delivered to mobile handsets might not be as lucrative as vendors claim.

Instead, a new breed of location-based services could proliferate if they are robust, secure and capable of synchronising with the datacentres that manage them.

Deregulation in Jordan has led to new operators emerging and more choices being given to users.

An economic imperative

While many of the developments surrounding the issue of freeing up Arabian telecoms markets are still open topics for discussion, what is certain is that the process is not simple and the markets that have remained closed have done so for a reason.

So a significant re-think in terms of economic modelling is likely to be needed.

That said, the opening up of these markets is arguably an economic imperative if their next stage of technical development and revenue generation is to be realised - and much of that development will extend into the mobile arena.

"The mobile industry is now entering a period where software innovation is one of the most important drivers of growth worldwide," said John Forsyth, Symbian's vice president for strategy.

"Symbian's belief is that the key to unlocking that innovation is openness. On the one hand that means openness of the handset and its operating system, which requires a really secure and robust software platform.

On the other hand it means openness of the network, which will drive competition for services, which in turn drives growth and revenue.

"Mobile services in the Gulf States and the rest of the Middle East have shown tremendous growth and have great potential going forwards but a 'freemarket for services' will be key to capitalising on that. The ultimate vision for a prosperous mobile economy is that a third party developer anywhere can have an idea, develop it for his smartphone and instantly tap into a market of billions," added Forsyth.

Brand values

While the bulk of the discussion around the shift towards telecoms liberalisation in the Middle East is generally focused on technology challenges and user behaviour, the role of marketing and branding will also be key to moulding the shape of future Arabian telecoms development.

"A major factor to consider in deregulating the Middle Eastern telecoms market is the importance of brands. For both incumbent and new entrants, retaining or capturing customers is the name of the game and you can't do that without a strong brand and a differentiated proposition," said Peter Matthews, managing director for brand experience company Nucleus.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code