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Lifecell Ventures pushes new frontiers for telcos

With Ericsson network hardware platform, Turkcell unit avails digital services to operators in Middle East and Africa

Terzioglu says telcos are missing out by not leveraging their data.
Terzioglu says telcos are missing out by not leveraging their data.

Lifecell Ventures, the digital services unit of Turkish leading operator Turkcell, is ready to roll out its services across the world, with an initial focus on Middle East and Africa.

Announcing the development at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Lifecell Ventures chairman Kaan Terzioglu said the company has developed its own digital solutions and services that can compete with over the top (OTT) companies.

Its applications such as BiP, fizy, Dergilik, Lifebox, My Account, Paycell, Upcall, and RTM are now available to operators all over the world said, Yorgi Yuanidis, Lifecell Ventures general manager. The companys executives have already held talks with operators in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE and other countries in MEA, keen to pursue opportunities in the region, Yuanidis added.

Underlying these services is the network capabilities of Ericsson from parent company Turkcell. Lifecell will essentially combine the capabilities of a telecom operator and OTT.

OTT operators sell audio, video, and other media services directly to consumers over the internet via streaming media as a standalone product, bypassing telecommunications, cable or broadcast television service providers that traditionally act as distributors of such content.

The standard relationship of a telecom operator with its customers consists of the average 31 minutes daily call time-Lifecell wants to be part of its customers lives every moment of the 1440 minutes of the day with its products and services.

This involves adding an extra 63 minutes of communication with TV+, 46 minutes with BiP, 24 minutes with fizy, and 27 minutes with its publishing platform Dergilik.

Some of the applications have the potential to find a ready market in the Middle East region, with its combination of a digitally savvy and large migrant population.

BiP, which Yuanidis describes as a lifestyle companion, combines standard messaging capabilities with games, money transfer, maps and push-to-talk. BiP also adds translation, exchange rate and finance, and travel to its comprehensive platform.

The app-to-network or network-to-app call feature of BiP could be a boon to expats who call home on a regular basis. They can use VoIP to make internet call through the BiP app until they hit their home countrys network, which then turns the call into a local call. If they have a data plan, they can even make free calls from wherever they are, Yuanidis observed.

The Lifebox app caters to those who take numerous photos and videos. The app identifies who or what is in the image and automatically classifies the pictures into separate folders. Paycell is a money sending app whose capabilities to send money across borders will be added soon, Yuanidis revealed.

Terzioglu said if telecom operators continue to provide only infrastructure services, their network will remain a cost element, unable to monetise the massive data growth. He compares data to oil, where earnings are multiplied when selling refined oil instead of the unrefined commodity. It is the same thing with data, Terzioglu says. Without processing the data telecom companies have, storing it in an intelligent way, reformatting it into different types of products and services, then they are simply wasting it.

Ultimately, Lifecell Ventures believes these services will have a positive effect on regional operators revenue and ARPU while also increasing customer loyalty. These are not concepts but existing applications in the market, Yuanidis said.