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MTC-Vodafone boosts mobile data services

MTC-Vodafone Bahrain is set to unveil wide-ranging plans to upgrade its value added service (VAS) portfolio.

MTC-Vodafone Bahrain is set to unveil wide-ranging plans to upgrade its value added service (VAS) portfolio.

The mobile operator, one of the region’s biggest investors in mobile data services so far, is preparing to revamp its mobile portal and launch applications such as push to talk and customised ring back tones (CRBT).

The move sits alongside plans currently in the pipeline to expand MTC-Vodafone’s 3G infrastructure to cover the whole of Bahrain.

Among the operator's imminent plans is an expansion of the services and content available via its portal, WoW, following a decision to re-launch the site two months ago.

The new services will include CRBT, as well as recently-launched streamed video feeds from regional and local broadcasters.

The operator also plans to upgrade the capability of its SIM Application Toolkit (SAT)-based system, which allows subscribers to access services via a menu residing on their phones.

"We currently have a static SAT menu but we are very close to launching a dynamic version where subscribers can have the services they like and eliminate those that they don't," says Mohammed Al-Hashili, senior product development manager, MTC-Vodafone Bahrain.

MTC-Vodafone, which set up its Bahraini operation last year, has also recently launched various services for business clients as part of an ongoing effort to churn high spending subscribers from incumbent operator, Batelco.

In August, following a deal with US-based vendor, ITS, the operator launched mobile virtual private networks (VPNs) for enterprise clients, allowing them to use short codes to dial colleagues and make use of lower tariffs for internal calls.

Al-Hashili also says that MTC-Vodafone will launch push to talk before the end of the year, although it is unclear whether the operator plans to target the service at consumers or enterprise clients.

Elsewhere, various other attempts are being made by the operator to increase data usage by its subscribers.

It recently bought connect cards from Vodafone in Europe, allowing users to add GPRS access to their laptops and access multimedia services or the web.

These are being offered in a discount package with data only SIM cards and laptops to end-users, particularly students.

3G enabled cards, also launched by Vodafone, are being trialled, adds Al-Hashili.

The operator, however, has played down the possibility of launching wireless hotspots to complement its 3G network.

"We are testing 3G connect cards," says Al-Hashili. "Wireless hotspots are on the agenda but we think that for mobile consumers, 3G makes more sense as it is available on the move and you don't have to stick to one place," he adds.

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