Premium networks

Tawasul Telecom describes itself as 'the premium network and information technology provider for data, and integrated services within the GCC'. Last year, the Kuwait-based company signed a deal with Etisalat to provide the UAE operator with access to internet protocol (IP) virtual private network (VPN) services through Tawasul’s multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) network. Vice president for international business and operations, Peter Blaskovits, tells CommsMEA about the opportunities in the Middle East and his company’s plans for the region.

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By  Administrator Published  September 25, 2008

Tawasul Telecom describes itself as 'the premium network and information technology provider for data, and integrated services within the GCC'.

Last year, the Kuwait-based company signed a deal with Etisalat to provide the UAE operator with access to internet protocol (IP) virtual private network (VPN) services through Tawasul's multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) network. Vice president for international business and operations, Peter Blaskovits, tells CommsMEA about the opportunities in the Middle East and his company's plans for the region.

What does Tawasul offer its clients?

It is the Tawasul Telecom coverage, as a one-stop shop provider which can cover the whole Gulf and offers data communication services. We offer service level agreement (SLA) based solutions - all our solutions are SLA based - and that sets us apart from our competitors.

Tawasul also offers tailor made solutions. We work on the basis of customer specific solutions, rather than a restricted set of services; we always try to tailor-make solutions for our customer combing the network and IT services.

What do the businesses that you work with ask for? What are their priorities?

One of the major concerns of corporate customers in the Middle East is international connectivity, and the problems they face in reaching Europe or the Far East, or even neighbouring countries. There are basically two major options for these countries.

A cost effective, but very less reliable solution is VPN via the internet. At the other end of the spectrum, there is IPLC (International private leased circuit) which offers a dedicated line. It is expensive and difficult to manage but it offers a better level of service, however still usually without an SLA.

Last year, Tawasul announced a partnership deal with UAE operator Etisalat. How is it going?

The partnership is going well. I can't comment on the numbers, but in general it's going very well. Etisalat is very well driven company and I believe the UAE will be an important market for us. We can move with Etisalat as they move into other countries but we have to think reasonably - we can't cover the whole world!

Where is Tawasul focusing its efforts?

SLAs are still not well established in the region. It is changing at the moment, and many operators understand that companies are looking for a reliable solution after they have suffered from recent cable cuts in the region and a loss of connectivity.

They understand that reliability of the service is a crucial issue. We offer better costs with SLAs, and still the security and reliability. We see a huge demand for this kind of service. Our main market is definitely the GCC.

Although there is a disproportion amongst the members of the GCC, in that not all the countries are equal in terms of development, some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have extremely large potential - it is a huge market.

But there are less developed countries, as well, and some of the countries are a little bit behind the others. Kuwait is a market which is starting to offer services like broadband, but it's a country that needs more time and some more competition.

Qatar is a small country, but many international businesses are going there, so the market is opening up. In Bahrain there are many telcos with a lot of competition, but the incumbent is putting pressure on the market. The UAE has the greatest duopoly.

The two networks, Etisalat and du, are offering a wide range of services; there's not that much competition, but the range of services is at the same level as those that you will find in the US and Europe.

Do you have any plans to move into countries outside the GCC?

We see a great amount of potential in Egypt and Jordan. And a very emerging market for the future is Iraq. We believe that, as a neighbour, we can cover this market well. We are in talks with one partner company in Iraq, but it's a little bit too early to talk about it at the moment.

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