By Roger Field
Jay Srage, president, Qualcomm UAE, Mena and Central Asia, explains how operators can make a commercial success of quad play packages.
With telecom operators in the region showing increasing interest in offering bundled services, Jay Srage, president, Qualcomm UAE, Mena and Central Asia, explains how operators can make a commercial success of quad play packages.
Many operators are now expressing an interest in quad play, but how can they ensure such packages are a commercial success?
What we see from the different quad play packages that have been launched around the world is that the main strategy of success comes from content. If you want to pull yourself apart from the competition you need to have content that is different, which means that you need your own content.
You need to acquire content and licence existing content, so you need to have a mix of user generated content and your own produced content and whatever is available. You need strong connections with the broadcasters, movie studios, record labels, and with producers that will produce your mobile content.
Ease of use is also important. We have seen some strategies fail because the user had to take extra steps. If you are a user you don't care whether the technology is WiFi, 3G or DSL. If you ask the user to take additional steps, to go between networks or try to implement this, or you give your customer a set top box with a complicated user manual, then they are not going to buy into it.
Is it important for operators in the Middle East to act quickly to launch bundled offerings and start looking at quad play?
Whoever starts with the first offering is going to get the consumers and when that consumer has a quad play service, it is going to be very difficult for them to change, even if the competing operator comes in Once people have their internet, mobile, TV, and fixed line from one carrier, they shy away from moving everything back to a different carrier.
How is the development of quad play in the Middle East?
In the Middle East and Africa we have not seen any quad play yet, but we have started to see fixed mobile substitution. For example when Mobily in Saudi Arabia offers its users 3G wireless as their primary broadband internet connection, they offer the WiFi router at home. They are trying to substitute the DSL with broadband wireless, so the customer is starting to see fixed line substitution.
The customer doesn't need fixed line or DSL at home, all they need is a wireless number and a WiFi router that works on 3G. Then you are all set, so we are seeing this fixed line substitution happening rather than quad play services.
What challenges do operators in the region face in terms of rolling out quad play services?
I don't see a barrier that is stopping them from deploying these services because the technology and infrastructure is there. The regional operators basically have all the necessary infrastructure today to deploy these quad play services, so it is not a technology barrier, it is more of a strategy barrier.
They need to understand what quad play services are, what is the best model and what it means to deliver those services. They need to find the right content, the right broadcasters, and get IPTV or video-on-demand in a way that the users want.
What can Qualcomm offer operators in terms of quad play?
We are looking at quad play within the framework of building a wireless ecosystem within the region. We want to be able to work with the operators first on making sure that the network will support future quad play services. We want to make sure that operators have the right technology in place. So if they have HSPA now we want to make sure they roll into HSPA+ to support HD media for example, and then eventually go to LTE to support higher resolution.
It is the same thing on the application side, where we are working with multiple application developers that have very innovative ideas to integrate those services and the operators' strategies. We also want to introduce the operators to innovative device manufacturers that are fairly unknown in this region.
When are we likely to see quad play deployments in the Middle East?
Some operators might consider fixed line substitution the first step towards quad play but from my perspective, the true implementation of convergence or quad play based on the stage we are at today can't happen before early next year.
We are seeing a big trend here that is moving from a competition on voice and minutes to competition on services. We are seeing major regional operators now that want to push value added and quad play services to the consumer. This is refreshing because I think in certain markets we need to put the huge competitive pricing to a stop because it is killing the operators and no-one wins. Instead of focusing on cost and minutes they are starting to see that they can differentiate on service and that will roll the ball on a lot of innovation and new products.