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Guided by its vision of enriching people's lives and its belief that it can stimulate human growth by leveraging communications to help people achieve their full potential, Ooredoo Kuwait, is a member of international Ooredoo Group and provides mobile, broadband internet and corporate managed services tailored to the needs of customers and businesses. Telecom Review caught up with Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Thani, CEO and General Manager of Ooredoo Kuwait, to get the latest on the company's achievements, changes and future.

What are the company's key achievements in 2015?
Ooredoo Kuwait introduced major developments in 2015 in terms of the services and products offered to our customers; this includes our 4G LTE network which now covers 92 percent of the state. We plan to roll out more towers in the near future.

We have also expanded our branch network and are offering new services to small and medium businesses, who we think are a very important customer segment to us.

What is the company's market share in Kuwait?
Ooredoo has a strong 30 percent share of the local market, which is a good ratio in light of the competitive environment.

We are always attempting to attract more customers by offering unique products and services.

Revenues for 2015 were KWD 188.1 million (USD 619.8 million), an increase of 11.9 percent compared to 2014 of KWD 168.0 million (USD 573.3 million).

What is the percentage of data services within your revenues?
The internet has become an essential component of everyday life, especially as consumers turn to voice-over-IP companies such as Skype for their communications. Accordingly, and as may be expected, data today accounts for 30 percent of our revenues across our group.

What is the future of the telecommunications sector?
The telecommunications sector is rapidly evolving and has seen significant growth in recent years.It is still witnessing growth thanks to the introduction of competition, the growing needs and aspirations of our customers.

I see the future of the sector largely linked to the quality of the internet services provided by telecommunications companies.

Data access, in particular, is now an indispensable service for the vast majority of subscribers.

Social networking channels and mobile applications are now a staple part of the daily routine for the majority of people in Kuwait.

What are new revenue sources for you, given the decline in voice communication service and SMS revenues?
Although revenues from SMS messages and traditional voice calls have declined, the use of mobile data is rising. Data services, and more specifically the internet companies, have changed the rule of the game meaning our traditional communications services can no longer be the foundation.

The ownership of smartphones and devices continues to grow and our strategy is to achieve leadership in internet access.

What do you hope to see from the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) in Kuwait?
First of all, we must recall that the Kuwaiti telecommunications market is both dynamic and competitive; mobile penetration is around 180 percent and still growing.

We are witnessing a boom in the quality and richness of the services offered to all segments of society.

I see the need of an effective regulator who will develop the regulations and arbitrate fairly, resolve disputes, enforce quality control laws, and allocate spectrum to support the growth of the industry and economy. TRA should also look into offering operators their own international gateway, and to provide greater consumer protection.

We in Ooredoo Kuwait look forward to a positive relationship between both TRA and our fellow telecommunications companies. We also look forward to continue supporting all players to support the advancement of this vital sector.

What licenses do the sector need in the next phase?
The authority has a number of important decisions to consider, including the license for international gateways and to create a fiber optic network across the state. They should also look into allowing virtual network partnerships and providing support for fixed-infrastructure investments and ISPs.

How do you see the future for the privatization of the sector?
We believe that there are sectors/services which will need to be privatized in the near future; however, some areas including maintenance and facilities management (domestic and international exchanges and infrastructure, fiber optic, etc.) will still need to be under the Ministry's supervision and control.

The move to the partial privatization is a positive step towards enriching and promoting the principle of positive competition, which creates an attractive environment for investors.

With the rapid changes in communications technology, how ready is Ooredoo to keep up with these changes?
Ooredoo Kuwait is considered one of the leading companies in introducing new technologies; we hire the top talents and train our employees to the highest standards to ensure that our customers are offered the latest and best telecommunications services.

We have invested significantly in upgrading our network, which allows us to continue introducing these services as and when they are available.

How is the company seeking to retain its position in the light of local competition?
Ooredoo is committed to being the leader in Kuwait, and continuously introduces new technologies and services that meet if not surpass the client's needs and aspirations. We have recently upgraded our entire network to LTE/4G + at no additional cost to the customer.

We have also introduced new offers for prepaid and postpaid customers; both are witnessing huge success. We will continue to search for methods to enhance customer's confidence by providing the best services and products.

What is the readiness of the company to launch 5G?
Ooredoo Kuwait is working with its partners to provide the best products and solutions that ensure the company sustains its reputation as having the best network. We have recently signed an agreement with Huawei and look forward to expanding our network with the latest technologies and services.

Ooredoo has participated in the World Mobile Congress that took place in Barcelona earlier in February. What did the company highlight during this event? And what is the main agreement formed there?
The company has used its presence at the event to highlight the incredible progress it has made in updating and optimizing networks in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, as well the range of solutions that Ooredoo companies are delivering over these next generation networks. As well as 5G, Ooredoo has also showcased Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services during Mobile World Congress.

Also, top executives from Ooredoo Kuwait have met with their counterparts at Huawei, the leading global ICT solutions provider, during the Mobile World Congress, as both companies prepared to showcase ICT Innovation previewing how Ooredoo Kuwait will use cutting-edge communication, IT and managed services to deliver value to its customers in the coming years.