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Etisalat goes Surfing for mobile portal

The UAE operator has signed a deal with SurfKitchen to deploy the UK-based developer's interface on its subscribers devices, which Etisalat hopes will boost the usage of data services.

UAE operator Etisalat has turned to UK-based software developer SurfKitchen for its future mobile device interface, in a bid to extend its WAP portal and increase usage of its mobile data services. Subscribers with Symbian-based devices will be able to benefit from one customisable and branded central interface with which to deliver and manage digital content, information service downloads and premium SMS services.

The complete rollout and full implementation of SurfKitchen’s solution is expected to be completed in 3Q06. It will be available in both English and Arabic, and provided to customers via Bluetooth, infrared and WAP or over the air (OTA).

According to Etisalat’s chief marketing officer, Essa Al Haddad, the operator is building on its legacy of being the region’s first to offer 3G services. “Deploying the SurfKitchen solution across multiple devices will enable us to differentiate ourselves in an increasingly growing marketplace, while increasing the take-up of compelling data services.”

Michel Quazza, SurfKitchen’s CEO, believes that the Middle East mobile market has a considerable number of sophisticated users. “It made perfect sense to combine our technology with Etisalat’s existing WAP portal to deliver a truly dynamic user experience.”

Speaking in May 2006 to CommsMEA, new Etisalat CEO Mohammed Al Qamzi said that despite launching 3G first, there was not a great deal of content for customers. “We started very early with 3G. We were earlier than the content, there was not much to see.” However, he claimed that there is a new movement within the company towards services, with new packages being developed that should attract considerable interest. “We’re going to stream video clips, more entertainment, and more value,” he told CommsMEA.

Other SurfKitchen customers include MTC-Vodafone in Kuwait.

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