Bridging the broadband gulf

HSPA+ continues to reign supreme as the wireless broadband technology of choice, says Mohammad J. Al-Shehab, CCO, Zain Kuwait

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Bridging the broadband gulf HSPA+ technology will help lead to greater innovations in mobile broadband, says Mohammad J. Al-Shehab, CCO, Zain Kuwait.
By  Mohammad J. Al-Shehab Published  June 14, 2010

But speed alone is not enough to satisfy the demanding Kuwaiti customer base; a clear and competitive pricing strategy is also crucial. We have opted to offer flat-rate bundles for customers, including the use of tiered packages differentiated by connection speed.

An important aspect of our flat-rate packages is transparency with regard to “fair use” restrictions, so that customers do not find themselves subject to additional — and unexpected — charges or service limitations.

The mobile broadband business growth largely depends on the devices as well as prices. Thus, we have been ensuring that our customers are enjoying the best experience through a carefully selected and a wide range of broadband devices like USB modems and routers. We have been very successful in meeting differentiating consumer and business needs through best devices for mobile broadband as well as pricing plans.

Beyond Kuwait

We are also taking a measured approach to rolling out HSPA+ elsewhere in the group, with our decisions based on a careful market analysis, considering criteria such as the competitive environment, market dynamics (such as availability of suitable spectrum and fibre backhaul), and customer profiles.

The need to access and drive backhaul capacity is a priority for Zain when planning the launch of new services, especially because it may not be immediately apparent how much data our customers will consume.

Africa may indeed prove a lucrative HSPA+ hunting ground for Zain, because of the lack of existing broadband solutions in many markets.

In markets where we already have 3G networks and suitable spectrum allocations, an HSPA+ rollout is a relatively straightforward proposition, being an evolution of our existing operations rather than involving a fresh roll-out of completely new technologies.

We have committed to deploying HSPA+ in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and continue to evaluate the suitability of the technology for other markets.

A clear upgrade path to LTE is another clear advantage that HSPA+ offers over competitive technologies.  With HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE all forming part of the GSM family of technologies, all mobile operators, and subsequently mobile consumers, can benefit from the vast economies of scale, choice of devices and roaming relationships that the supporting GSM ecosystem delivers.

With 86 mobile operators publicly committing to LTE technology, it is clear that it will become the defacto 4G technology.

As we have demonstrated however, HSPA+ is capable of delivering impressive performance through a wide range of devices today, enabling us to seize maximum possible market share over the fixed line competition before the spectrum arrives for LTE deployment.

Zain has also announced its commitment to LTE, and we are set to make a $25m investment in a network in Bahrain, which is being deployed during 2010 — this will be an LTE showcase for all Zain group operations.

We also intend to rollout LTE in Kuwait to follow HSPA+, although this is not an immediate priority.

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