Orange Jordan gears up for launch of 3G network

Launch of services in Amman expected to take place this week, as staff test network and marketing campaign gathers pace

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Orange Jordan gears up for launch of 3G network Orange Jordan customers will soon be able to use the operator's 3G network. (Getty Images)
By  George Bevir Published  March 3, 2010

Telecom operator Orange Jordan is expected to launch Jordan's first 3G network this week, paving the way for the introduction of a raft of potentially lucrative services that the operator's CEO hopes will inject some value into the price-driven market.

The telco's marketing campaign has been gathering pace since the end of last month, when it launched a micro-website to inform customers of the internet and video-based services it will offer.

An increasing number of staff members have been trialling the service over the past week, and industry experts say it will be opened up to the public by the end of the week.

Danya Nusseir, author of Jordan-based research and consultancy group Arab Advisor's report on 3G markets in the Middle East, said she expects the network to launch "in a few days time."

"It will definitely give [Orange Jordan] a competitive advantage over the other operators, initially," she said. "The other operators are aware, and that is why they are trying to provide other offers to their customers, to counter the advantage that Orange has with the 3G services."

Orange Jordan, which claims some 1.8 million mobile users, will hope it can take a bite out of market leader Zain's customer base, which stood at 2.4 million subscribers as of last year. Next nearest telco is Batelco subsidiary Umniah, which has 1.5 million subscribers.

Competition among the operators has driven down prices, and when Orange Jordan CEO Nayla Khawam spoke with CommsMEA at the end of last year, she said she hoped that being able to offer 3G services would inject some value into a market "completely and exclusively price driven".

"The main usage of mobile is voice and SMS and there is no diversification; the revenue from data and content is so, so little, that it becomes very difficult to innovate and create and introduce new services because you can't really take a risk because you have such a limited margin," she said.

Khawam said that the 3G coverage will begin in Amman "and some governorates", before being rolled out to the rest of the country, with details about the precise extent of the coverage expected at launch this week.

Orange Jordan was awarded the 15-year licence in August 2009 for JD50 million (US$70 million), following a drawn out process that began in 2008.

At the time, the regulator stipulated that Orange Jordan would have six months to build the network, after which a 12-month exclusivity period would begin.

Infrastructure vendor Ericsson has been tasked with the job of building the network, and according to the operator's 2009 financial results, capital spending on the network stood at JD53.2 million ($75 million).

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