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UK telco giant unveils ME ‘roadmap’

International communications solutions giant British Telecommunications Plc (BT) has outlined its Middle East ‘roadmap’ as it bids to launch an extensive array of services throughout the region.

International communications solutions giant British Telecommunications Plc (BT) has outlined its Middle East ‘roadmap’ as it bids to launch an extensive array of services throughout the region. The firm, which has maintained a presence in the Middle East since 1985, has also announced that its new regional headquarters will be located in Dubai.

The firm is in the process of completing an extensive network roll-out in the Middle East, delivering an IP infrastructure in conjunction with local licensees. The programme is due to be completed by March 2007, and will support broadband VPN, internet, voice, mobility, multimedia and private line services. In addition, it will allow firms to take advantage of a series of sophisticated services across multiple sites in multiple countries.

“This region is amazing because it has created a momentum of building for the future, whereas in some other parts of the world you get the impression that they are more interested in defending what they have. That’s fantastic and that’s why we’re here,” Olivier Campenon, president of BT EMEA – which covers 107 countries including central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic and the Middle East and Africa – told Arabian Business.

“BT is one of the leading world players in delivering networked IT services, and we see tremendous opportunity and potential in the Middle East to help regional customers take up and win the challenges of the global economy,” he added.

The firm already serves more than 500 multinational customers in the region, including Barclays, Bristol Myers Squib, Honeywell, Reuters, Unilever and Visa. These operations will in the future be coordinated from the Dubai headquarters, though there will also be offices in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Turkey.

“We’ve decided to place the regional headquarters here in Dubai because the sectors that we are mainly targeting are finance, logistics and service, and these are three areas where Dubai is clearly becoming a stronghouse,” explained Campenon.

BT plans to work alongside, and in partnership with, local telcos - such as the UAE’s Etisalat, and new operator Du – and Campenon denied that BT’s entry into the market represented new competition.

“We do not intend to compete with them [local telcos] – we need them,” he said. “We need to work with them, so it’s important that they don’t get the impression that we’re deploying the BT network against them. We are competing with global operators such as Francais Orange, and we are working with operators such as Etisalat and Du.”

“We don’t have a big ego at BT. We’re not saying ‘we want to rule the world and we want all customers to work with us’. If customers choose to work with Etisalat or Du, then that’s their choice,” Campenon added.

“We are opening the door to a compelling new communications world where customers will enjoy more joined up, more logical and more intuitive services,” said Dr. Brian Armstrong, regional director for the Middle East and Africa.

“BT works with large multi-national companies from around the world helping meet the challenges of the digital networked economy,” he continued. “We are here to help them achieve their global aspirations, grow their businesses, and thereby contribute to the growth and prosperity of the Middle East.

“BT will build on our existing business relationships, as well as build new ones, to develop long-term partnerships with the financial, oil and gas, as well as with logistics industries in the region,” he added.

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions and services, operating in 170 countries. Its principal activities include networked IT services, local, national and international telecommunications services, and higher-value broadband and internet products and services.

Based in London, BT Group’s revenue for the last financial year was US$39 billion - with profit, before taxation, of over US$4 billion.

The Middle East expansion is part of the firm’s ‘21st Century Network’ plan, which involves worldwide investment of over US$19 billion. The network is currently available in 71 countries, but this figure will reach 160 by the end of next year. The firm plans to add a new city every seven days, until March 2007.

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