Telecom firms seek revenues beyond domestic borders

470The region’s cash-rich telecom companies have witnessed their revenues increase from overseas operations as against home markets. At the forefront of this trend is Ooredoo, formerly known as Qatar Telecom or Qtel. Although Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, its total population is approximately two million. In small markets, ambitious companies, such as Ooredoo, cannot do much, except for fine-tuning existing services, so, for widening growth, firms have to look beyond domestic shores.

Ooredoo, which is Arabic for ‘I Want’, has a subscriber base of 2.9 million in Qatar, but its overseas subscriber number, as of December 31, 2013, stands at approximately 90 million. The firm generated revenue of QAR6.6 billion ($1.81bn) from its domestic market in 2013, while, from the overseas markets, it brought in more than QAR22bn ($6.04bn). A little less than 80 per cent of Ooredoo’s revenue comes from overseas operations.

Ooredoo’s Group CEO, Dr Nasser Marafih, realises the importance of its markets abroad. Speaking to TRENDS, a sister publication of AMEinfo.com, Marafih indicates that the Doha-headquartered telco firm plans to float an initial public offering in the Far East. As Ooredoo operates in Indonesia, it’s a given that it might be listed on a bourse in Jakarta. The firm is already listed on Doha, Abu Dhabi and London stock exchanges.

In terms of overall revenue, Ooredoo saw a modest growth of 1.1 per cent in 2013, when compared with 2012. “The telecom model is changing very fast, and it’s all about services and how a firm differentiates itself from the others,” says Marafih, adding that telco companies are not just about telephones any more, it’s the integration of services, such as cable and mobile TV, broadband internet, gaming and entertainment services, that matter. “The future of growth for telcos is in fruitful partnerships with firms that specialise in services, such as gaming, apps and entertainment,” he adds.

Announcing its annual results, Ooredoo reveals that it significantly enhanced its product portfolio in Qatar last year, by introducing a range of new services for individuals and businesses. Its investment in a nationwide fiber network delivered positive results, reaching the milestone of 100,000 customers in Qatar at the end of 2013. Through Indonesia’s Indosat, Ooredoo maintained its positive customer momentum in Q4 2013, driving increases in subscriber numbers. Revenue growth in local currency during the same period was driven by mobile and fixed data, with mobile data traffic and revenue improving in upgraded areas of Indosat’s network.

Ooredoo’s Asiacell in Iraq performed well in 2013 and has delivered consistently on the firm’s expectations, despite the intensely competitive nature of the Iraqi market. Its continued focus on value segments to reinforce Asiacell’s value share proposition has seen its subscriber base grow by seven per cent to 10.7 million.


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