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Ian Gray

QATAR - Telecoms & IT

Red Line

CEO, Vodafone Qatar

Bio

Ian Gray joined Vodafone Qatar as CEO in December 2015. He is also currently Chairman of Vodafone Egypt having served on the board for almost 17 years. Between 2007-2010 he was a Regional Director for Vodafone Group focusing on Central and Eastern Europe. He is also UK Co-Chairman of The Egyptian British Business Council (EBBC) which was set up under the auspices of the Egyptian and British Governments in 1998 as a top level strategic body to facilitate trade and investment links between Egypt and the UK. Prior to Vodafone, he was CEO of the FTSE listed companies Brown and Jackson PLC and later General Cable PLC. Before that, he held Divisional CEO roles in the Thorn EMI Group.

“Once the lines are open in 2020, Vodafone will ensure citizens, residents, and visitors enjoy a superior network quality experience.“

What makes Qatar a pillar of Vodafone’s operations across the Middle East and how do you assess your contribution to the development of the IT sector during these years?

As a business, we are deeply committed to the country and enormously proud of our successful history operating as the holder of Qatar’s second public mobile and fixed telecommunications networks and services license. Fully in line with Qatar’s 2030 National Vision, Vodafone Qatar is committed to providing innovative services and solutions designed to further develop the telecommunications sector as the country progresses toward its vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy. We have introduced a number of market firsts in Qatar such as the London Edition, the first telecoms product of its kind in the world, which is an invitation-only plan to customers with both Qatar and UK numbers that is easily managed through a single Qatar account; in addition, Vodafone Red, our signature postpaid suite, provides some of the best international and local rates in the region; and our Connect plans bring maximum flexibility to our customers with no restrictions. We have developed initiatives such as our data welcome bonus, another market first for postpaid customers. This gives customers two months of unlimited internet with a new postpaid plan. We have a whole-hearted commitment to customer care and ensuring maximum flexibility and transparency in customers’ dealings with us. Innovations such as the My Vodafone App, which gives users full control over their mobile usage, or Bill Manager, an innovative product that ensures all our post-paid customers never receive a shocking bill again, help build customer trust and brand affinity.

Vodafone has emerged as one of the pioneers in smart solutions through the Internet of Things (IoT). How are you supporting Qatar in its smart developments?

Our extensive experience and expertise in fixed, mobility, IoT, cloud solutions, big data, and analytics mean we are ideally placed to address many of the urban challenges that are evident in a rapidly developing economy and market like Qatar and to support the vital delivery of public services efficiently, securely, and cost effectively. The launch of our Global Platform as the connectivity solution that enables a wider concept of IoT is a good example of how we are continually looking for ways to bring the power of our international network to Qatar. This combines with an interactive portal for end users, global SIM cards powered by the world’s largest network, highly secure solutions, more than 1,300 IoT experts, a broad portfolio of IoT terminals, and an application and service enablement development and testing and deployment—all from a single supplier, with a single contract. We recently announced the launch of a partnership with Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) to provide a fleet management service, a telematics service designed to track and perform logistics management for companies aiming to enhance productivity and tackle road safety issues.

In light of the agreement signed with Qatar Rail, what are the areas of collaboration you can explore with developers to provide world-class telecommunications infrastructure?

The MoU with Qatar Rail covers commuters using the Doha Metro Green and Gold Lines and will ensure the availability of high-quality telecommunications services to the general public from the commencement of railway services. Once the lines are open in 2020, Vodafone will ensure citizens, residents, and visitors enjoy a superior network quality experience. In addition, we will further invest in fixed-line activities targeting opportunities in public and private investments in major new real estate developments such as Msheireb Downtown, Lusail City, and The Pearl-Qatar, and infrastructure projects such as the new seaport and Hamad International Airport. We believe these offer real scope for our enterprise business and fixed-line services.

You stated last April 2016 that Vodafone Qatar would be one of the fastest adopters of 5G services. What is the status of this initiative and how will it represent a revolution in the market?

As the sole representatives from Qatar on global telecoms industry steering groups for 5G standards, we are already thinking about how we can bring that technology to bear in Qatar. 5G will be the next generation of mobile technology, which the International Telecoms Union expects to be formally defined by 2020. Vodafone is at the forefront of making 5G a commercial reality with 5G technologies research underway to prepare its networks for a transition toward the new mobile standard.

How is Vodafone expanding its business plans portfolio to attract small, medium, and large companies?

We are actively supporting large numbers of small- to medium-sized businesses in Qatar, enabling them to succeed and grow. We have designed products such as Ready Business, a unique platform for the Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) segment. This offers two choices of postpaid plans packed with value including international free minutes for every hour of received calls, and other innovative benefits such as a business ring-back tone. At Vodafone, we do not just offer Wi-Fi but managed Wi-Fi, which consists of a carefree package that we serve end-to-end so that a business owner need never worry about their connectivity. Our presence in all major worldwide destinations also means that we are uniquely placed to offer our business customers unparalleled benefits. Companies can benefit from a truly cost-effective voice and data roaming service that enables all their employees to stay connected to the company’s office and to their friends and family while travelling. We also recently launched Business Corners in our flagship stores Villagio, City Center Doha, and Landmark Mall.

What are your expectations and plans for the year ahead?

Our strategic focus is to continue the positive momentum we achieved in 2016 and to build on our improving financial performance and success. That momentum is based on delivering significant and sustained improvements in network quality, customer service, and expanding our range of innovative products and services. We will continue our investments in network and technology upgrades, building on our progress to date in delivering a reliable network and wide range of quality services. This will enable us to consolidate the success and recognition we have received such as our network being named Best in Test by P3 communications. We will continue to invest in bringing a range of innovative solutions and applications to the market. Fixed line will represent an important future growth opportunity for Vodafone Qatar as we expand our product portfolio.

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