28 Nov 2008

MNOs aim to retain migrant worker customers via overseas MVNOs

The ever-indispensable Global Mobile Daily reminded me yesterday that Suriname's incumbent telco Telesur (most of whose top management team I've had the pleasure of meeting at previous interactions of our Americas Com event in Rio) has launched a prepaid MVNO in the Netherlands. This is a move to retain the business of around 330,000 ex-pat Surinamese living and working in Holland. The MVNO will work in partnership with retail chains Kruidvat and Trekpleister for distribution of its mobile services. The service will be enabled by MVNE Teleena.

This model is not new - MVNOs aimed at specific ethnic segments or specific groups of migrant workers. Also tried and tested is the idea of the dominant mobile player from one country seeking to monetise its natural ability to market services to fellow countrymen who happen to be located abroad. A case which interests me is that of the German MVNO mobi gsm, an offering of Millenicom, a company owned by European Telecommunication Holding, part of the Çukurova Group, controllers of Turkey's leading MNO Turkcell.

Turkcell, along with competitors Vodafone and Avea, must now decide on how to approach the matter of MVNOs going to market on its home turf. Along with MNP and 3G services finally becoming a reality in 2009, MVNOs are one of the hotter topics of discussionon the Turkish telecoms scene, which is why the subject will get extended coverage at our Eurasia Com conference in Istanbul, 31 March & 1 April. Two companies looking to get involved as MVNEs will be represented on the panel of speakers - handset/SIM retailer Vegatel and the Turkish arm of pan-European MVNE/MVNO Effortel. In the last couple of days I've also heard from Jacques Bonifay, CEO of Transatel, another cross-border MVNO and MVNE. I'm pleased to report that developments in Turkey seem to have picqued Jacques' interest enough to make the trip down to Istanbul and join the discussions.

To ensure that no one present can possibly fail to go away armed with lots of useful insights on MVNO/MVNE and HNO (host network operator) business models, we have arranged for MVNO guru Alex Bessen to offer a compelling, co-located workshop at the event, offering case studies and practical guidance.

27 Nov 2008

Etisalat, Zain presence boosted at GSM>3G Middle East event

With 18 days to go before our annual Middle East region event, we have news of very welcome late additions to the panel of speakers, adding further value to an already strong conference programme.

Zain's presence at the event has been boosted further by confirmation that the CEO of the group's Saudi Arabia operation, Dr Marwan Al-Ahmadi, will be making a presentation to open the second day of the event (16 December). Zain's KSA operation only went live as recently as August 26, joining the group's 'one network' borderless roaming service. Given the newness of this business unit, we expect there to a very strong interest from delegates keen to evaluate the progress made by Dr Marwan's team in the first few months of commercial operation.

Another group involved closely with this year's GSM>3G Middle East conference is Etisalat. The UAE's leading telecoms service provider, and an endorsing sponsor of our event, Etisalat has subsidiaries in markets including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt. Representing the group on the panel of speakers will be Mr Nasser Bin Obood, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer and Mr
Mr Ali Amiri, Executive Vice President Carrier & Wholesale.

I also wanted to point out that our friends at the UMTS Forum and GSA (Global Mobile Suppliers' Association) are jointly hosting a workshop, immediately following the conference on 17 December. The workshop is designed to provide attendees with information and insights on the benefits of deploying WCDMA/HSPA in the 900MHz band, including increased coverage and in-building penetration, as well as lower CapEx and OpEx relative to WCDMA/HSPA deployed at 2100MHz. The workshop will also address the challenges faced by operators in deploying UMTS900, including fragmented spectrum allocations and co-existence with GSM900.
Regulators and senior decision makers involved in the areas of network strategy and deployment, including CTOs, Strategy and Planning Directors, Spectrum Technology Managers, Senior Engineers and Network Architects, as well as Marketing and Product Management personnel, will benefit from attending.

26 Nov 2008

Turkish Government moves to stimulate internet, mobile internet development

Today's Global Mobile Daily has news of a helpful move on the part of the Turkish Government, welcomed by the country's leading cellco Turkcell, controlled by Çukurova Group, a leading business conglomerate with diverse interests in numerous industries.

Turkey's Ministry of Finance has announced a reduction in the Special Communication Tax on mobile internet from 25% to 5% and on fixed internet from 15% to 5%. “We welcome the equalization of mobile and fixed internet taxation. We evaluate this decision of our government as a very positive development for both consumers and the telecommunication
industry.” Turkcell said it welcomed the decision as an “important step a few days ahead of the 3G tender.”

Anything likely to stimulate the telecoms market in Turkey is good news for us as we near the final stages of assembling the speaker panel for our annual Eurasia Com conference in Istanbul. I wonder if any of the CIS nations represented at the event by their telecoms ministers will be inspired by the Turkish example and consider similar measures. To date, we have confirmed ministerial delegates from Armenia and Tajikistan. We are working hard on adding to that list.

25 Nov 2008

Eurasia Com: Azeri and Tajik delegations announced

This morning we have more good news about the size, diversity and seniority of the group set to assemble at our Eurasia Com conference in Istanbul (31 March & 1 April 2009). The already-strong panel of speakers is to be boosted by the presence of the General Directors of two of the Eurasia region's state-owned incumbent wireline carriers.

Tajiktelecom will be represented by Mr Rahmunali Hasanov, joined by his counterpart from AzTelecom, Mr Magomed Mamedov. With the Kyrgyz incumbent operator already represented by its General Director and CTO, and with Türk Telekom CEO Dr. Paul Doany opening the event with a Welcome Keynote Address, Eurasia Com 2009 is shaping up to be the biggest, best event we've ever hosted for telcos in the Central Asia and Caucasus regions.

Yesterday, I was pleased to learn that ECI Telecom, a leading supplier of networking infrastructure for carrier and service provider networks worldwide, had been signed up as a Eurasia Com sponsor. We look forward to introducing the ECI Telecom team on-site to the carrier delegations whose presence we are currently confirming. As a sponsor, ECI Telecom can expect to gain privileged access to new contacts from across this high-growth region. We urge other telecoms tech vendors interested in the region to avail themselves of this opportunity also.

24 Nov 2008

Eurasia Com congress boosted by Ministerial support

Today I was delighted to receive a fax from the Ministry of Transport and Communication of the Republic of Armenia, signed by Mr Vruyr Arakelyan, the Deputy Minister whose responsibilities cover the the telecoms sector. In the message, Mr Arakelyan confirms that he will be joining us at the 5th annual Eurasia Com conference in Istanbul, 31 March & 1 April. Mr Arakelyan will be making a speech on recent developments and investment opportunities in the field of communications in Armenia. This is a welcome boost as we seek to raise further the profile and broaden the audience of this event.

Eurasia Com is quickly evolving beyond its roots as purely a meeting of mobile industry executives from the Caspian and Central Asia regions. Shifting the event from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Istanbul back in 2007 massively increased the size of the audience. Transport links were more favourable and it proved quite straightforward to create a conference of interest to delegates from CIS markets and the new host country.

In 2008, we began to diversify more actively in terms of the kinds of service provider represented, i.e. appealing to wireline carriers, WLL operators etc. in addition to the loyal audience from the mobile space. Now, in time for the 2009 event, we are making great strides in terms of reaching out to government agencies and state-owned carriers from CIS markets. We are more confident than ever that Eurasia Com will be the de facto annual meeting place for anyone looking to do business in this region's telecoms sector. Now is a great time to tap into the potential of these high-growth, under-penetrated markets in a region where many states possess rich natural resources. Opportunities exist for telecoms technology vendors to gain privileged access to the strong list of VIPs we are assembling.